PawSox Right-hander Allen Webster limited the Tribe to just one run through 5.0 innings of one-hit ball while starter Gerrit Cole was roughed up for eight runs in 5.2 frames as the Indianapolis Indians (31-14) suffered an 11-3 blowout loss to the Pawtucket Red Sox (26-18) on Sunday afternoon at McCoy Stadium. The eight-run loss marks the Tribe’s largest margin of defeat this season, and is the biggest suffered since the Indians dropped a 12-2 matchup vs. Charlotte on Aug. 7, 2012.
The contest opened in a classic pitcher’s duel as Webster, the Boston Red Sox’s No. 2 pitching prospect according to Baseball America, and RHP Gerrit Cole, Pittsburgh’s No. 1 overall prospect, dominated on the hill through the first 3.2 innings.
Webster (W, 5.0 IP, H, ER, 5 BB, 7 SO) retired each of the first 11 batters he faced, including striking out six batters in a row from the second to the fourth. The right-hander, who finished the contest having allowed just one earned run on one hit in 5.0 frames, worked a nearly flawless outing before control issues plagued his final two innings.
After quickly striking out the first two batters in the fourth, Webster yielded back-to-back walks to RF Felix Pie and 1B Matt Hague. 3B Jared Goedert then put the Tribe on the board for an early score when he slapped an RBI single to left-center that brought Pie home from second to put the Tribe up 1-0.
The lone score would prove to be the only damage Indianapolis could muster against Webster on Sunday, although the one-run lead initially appeared to be somewhat sufficient, thanks to Cole’s early dominance.
While battling with Webster, Indianapolis’ starter faced just one batter above the minimum through the first, second and third inning. The flamethrower surrendered just one hit (a double) no walks and struck out two before Pawtucket drew first blood against the righty in the fourth.
Much like the Red Sox’s starter, Cole (L, 5.2 IP, 6 H, 8 ER, 3 BB, 4 SO) quickly collected the first two outs of his troubled inning, but ran into control issues as he plunked 1B Brandon Snyder with an errant pitch. LF Jeremy Hazelbaker then followed with an infield single to second, but the contest really took a turn for the worst when 3B Jonthan Diaz skied a deep line drive to center field.
CF Alex Presley tracked the ball in play and appeared to have a chance for a highlight reel catch. However, as Presley laid out to make a run-saving play, the center fielder was unable to stab the quickly sinking liner, allowing the ball scoot to the fence while both runners raced home to put the PawSox up 2-1.
As Cole looked to settle down from the two-run rally, the Indians starter made a false move on the rubber to invoke a balk call from the home plate umpire, allowing Diaz to jog home and widen the PawSox advantage 3-1.
One inning later, the Tribe strung together a legitimate scoring opportunity when C Tony Sanchez DH Jerry Sands coaxed back-to-back walks to open the fifth, but Sanchez was caught leaning at second base on a ball that bounced in front of the catcher Rosario, who promptly gunned a throw to second to pick off the runner. As deflating as the pick off was, Webster took any remaining wind out of an attempted rally by inducing a groundball double play to escape the inning unscathed.
Pawtucket then added a score in the bottom of the inning courtesy of an RBI double from DH Justin Henry that made it 4-1, before ultimately putting the game out of reach with a five-run uprising in the sixth.
Snyder got things rolling for the PawSox by poking a leadoff single to left, swiping second and taking third on a passed ball. After Hazelbaker drew a free pass and stole second, Diaz mashed an RBI single to extend the lead 5-1.
SS Jose Iglesias and 2B Brock Holt then followed with consecutive sac-flys that made the score 7-1, and as Rosario drew a walk on Cole’s 103rd offering of the game, the Tribe was forced to call upon the bullpen in relief of its starter.
With Erik Cordier (1.1 IP, 2 H, ER, BB, 3 SO) on the mound, the home club knocked back-to-back base hits against the right-handed reliever, the latter of which was a two-run double from Henry that made the score 9-1.
After being one-hit through the first seven innings, the Tribe attempted to make it respectable in the top of the eighth. 2B Ivan DeJesus led off the frame with a single to right and Presley picked up the runner with a two-run shot that sailed over the right-field wall, cutting the deficit 9-3. With the two-run homer, Indianapolis has left the yard in each of the last three games, while also hitting 17 longballs through 18 games in the month of May.
Before all was said and done, Pawtucket erased the Indians homer with two scores of their own in the eighth inning, en route to claiming an 11-3 one-sided victory.
The Tribe and PawSox will meet for game three tomorrow afternoon at 7:05 p.m. at McCoy Stadium. Indianapolis is scheduled to give the ball to RHP Brooks Brown (2-0, 3.66) while Pawtucket is scheduled to send RHP Steven Wright (2-1, 3.16) to the mound.