The Indianapolis Indians (17-7) collected three, two-out RBI while top prospect Gerrit Cole allowed just one run through 7.0 innings to lead the Tribe to a 4-1 win over the Gwinnett Braves (12-12) on Saturday night at Victory Field. The Tribe’s 17 wins are tied for the second-most in all of Minor League Baseball.
Cole (7.0 IP, 3 H, ER, 4 BB, 5 SO) made his second quality start of the campaign and cruised through the first five frames, allowing no runs and just two hits. The right-hander walked four and fanned five to earn his second straight victory after picking up the win on 4/16 at Toledo. In tonight’s triumph, the Tribe hurler induced a double play and even picked off a runner to work out several jams throughout the evening, but was ultimately touched for a run in the sixth.
After being kept off the scoreboard through most of the contest, Gwinnett finally tallied a run when LF Jose Constanza coaxed a leadoff walk from Cole and immediately scored when 2B Corey Wimberly smoked an RBI double to right, making the score 4-1 in favor of the home team.
The Braves initially found themselves in a hole courtesy of timely hitting from Indianapolis. After posting a scoreless first inning, the Tribe put a dent in the scoreboard in the bottom of the second as RF Jerry Sands drew a one-out walk and moved to third on a base hit from C Tony Sanchez. With Sands waiting on third, 3B Ivan DeJesus Jr. lifted a deep sac fly to right that allowed the runner to scamper home and put the Indians up 1-0.
Indianapolis padded its one-run cushion in the next frame beginning with a free pass to 2B Josh Harrison. Following a fly out from CF Alex Presley, the hit collector 1B Matt Hague roped a two-out, run-scoring double to bring Harrison plateward and put the Indians up 2-0. SS Jordy Mercer then added to his team-leading hit total with an RBI single to right that scored Hague to make it 3-0.
For the third consecutive Inning, the Tribe again pushed across a run, albeit with some added drama. Following two quick outs from the leadoff batters, DeJesus Jr. poked a single to right field and took second as starter Cole slapped a grounder into the hole at shortstop. As Luis Nunez made a great backhanded snag at short, he sent a wild throw towards second base that brought Corey Wimberly off the bag and allowed the two-out rally to continue.
With runners on first and second, LF Darren Ford lined a single to left, plating DeJesus Jr. from second and widening the Tribe’s lead to 4-0. The fourth-inning tally was the third two-out RBI for Indianapolis on the evening.
The extra runs proved unnecessary as the Indianapolis’ bullpen stayed true to form by authoring 2.0 perfect innings in relief of Cole. Rehabbing left-hander Jose Contreras made his second appearance in as many games and struck out the side in the eighth before RHP Vic Black slammed the door with a scoreless ninth. Contreras (1.0 IP, 0 H, 0 ER, 3 SO) was credited with his first hold of the season, while Black (1.0 IP, 0 H, 0 ER, 2 SO) picked up his fifth save, which is tied for the fifth most in the International League.
Although Braves starter Yohan Flande (4.0 IP, 5 H, 4 ER, 3 BB, SO) struggled in his outing, Gwinnett reliever David Carpenter (3.0 IP, 3 H, 0 ER, 2 SO) worked 3.0 shutout frames out of the bullpen. The right-hander allowed three hits and no walks while striking out two during his long-relief outing.
After roughing up Flande, Indianapolis extended its unbeaten streak against left-handed starters to a perfect 9-0. Additionally, Mercer went 2-for-4 with an RBI to extend both his hitting streak and RBI streak to five-games, a span in which he is batting a blistering .533 (8-for-15) with one double, a triple and seven RBI.
Gwinnett and Indianapolis will face off in the second contest of the four-game series tomorrow at 1:35 p.m. at Victory Field. The Tribe is expected to send RHP Brooks Brown (1-0, 2.25) to the mound against Braves right-hander Tim Corcoran (1-1, 2.57).