It was a rough homecoming for the visiting Durham Bulls starting pitcher Heath Phillips at Victory Field on Tuesday night in downtown Indianapolis. Phillips, a native of Evansville, Indiana, gave up ten hits, four homers and eight runs to the Tribe.
It was the opposite story for Indianapolis starting right-hander Hayden Penn (6.0 IP, 4 H, 1 R, 0 ER, 3 BB, 9 SO) who was firing on all cylinders early for the Indians against a dangerous Durham lineup. After giving up a leadoff single to the Bulls center fielder Desmond Jennings, Penn struck out the side on nasty pitch after nasty pitch. Penn ended his evening with a season high nine strikeouts.
Trying to shake off the stench of the one-hit shutout loss on Monday night, Indianapolis Indians shortstop Doug Bernier lead off the home half of the first with a single to center. While the Tribe couldn’t get anything else going in the opening frame, it was nice to see them swinging the bats early.
Evansville, IN, native Heath Phillips started for the visiting Durham Bulls on Tuesday night and had a homecoming he’d like to forget. Phillips was tagged with the loss as he gave up 8 10 hits and 8 runs along with 4 home runs to the Indians.
After Penn worked a quick top half of the second, the Indy Indians dented the scoreboard for the first time in this series. Tribe catcher Eric Kratz leadoff the inning with a line drive that fell just in front of the Bulls left fielder for a single. Kratz didn’t have to wait long before crossing the plate as designated hitter Jeff Clement stepped up and knocked one deep and unplayable over the right field fence for a 2-0 Indians lead. After third basemen Brian Myrow struck out looking, Indians center fielder Jonathan Van Every hit one even further over the fence that Clement for his third home run of the season.
The bottom of the third inning was more of the same for the Indians when first basemen Steve Pearce worked a two-out walk to bring Kratz to the dish for his second at bat of the game. This time he blasted a two-run homer just inside the foul pole in let field for a 5-0 lead and the big catcher’s seventh home run of the season.
Penn got himself into a bit of trouble after giving up back-to-back two-out singles to the Bulls third basemen Dan Johnson and second basemen Joe Dillon. Yet the Indians starter appeared to get himself out of the inning when Durhams first basemen Chris Richard bounced a ball in between first and second base that that the Tribes Pearce snagged and should have tossed to a covering Penn for the final out. Instead, Pearce rushed an off target throw to the covering Penn that ended up bouncing off the Bulls dugout. The error resulted in an unearned run as Johnson crossed home to make it a 5-1 game. Penn controlled his emotions, and quickly struck out shortstop Angel Chavez for the final out of the inning.
Indians starting pitcher Hayden Penn was dominant all night long at Victory Field Tuesday night. Penn finished up with a season high 9 strikeouts.
The Tribes leadoff hitter Bernier–who got the start on Tuesday due to his .300 AVG against left-handed pitching–started off the fifth with a four-bag blast of his own to push the Indy lead to 6-1. Bernier’s blast was all the Hoosier-hardballers could muster in the fifth, but they were right back at it in the bottom of the sixth inning.
The Indy Indians went about scoring in the traditional fashion of small ball as Clement made it to first on a walk and moved to second on a single to left field off the bat of Myrow. Clement wasn’t done moving as he scored on a single to right field off the bat of Van Every, Myrow moved to third on the play. Myrow then scored on a Brandon Jones sacrifice fly to center field. That was all for the Phillips as Durham manager Charlie Montoyo had seen enough and closed the book on the Indiana native. The Tribe sent him packing and held an 8-1 lead.
Indians new second basemen Jim Negrych lead off the seventh with a sharp ground ball single up the middle. Even with a new pitcher in the game for the Bulls, the Indians were not yet tired of scoring as Steve Pearce hit a double off the wall in dead center that scored Negrych and left the Indians up 9-1.
Closing out the game behind Penn, Indians relievers Justin Thomas (2.0 IP, 2 H, 1 SO) and Steven Jackson (1.0 IP, 1 H, 1 SO) combined for three innings of scoreless relief. With three shutout frames of work, the Indianapolis Indians bullpen has now posted a 4-0 record and a 1.14 ERA (9 ER in 71.0 IP) in the month of June.
The Indians continue their four-game set with Durham on Wednesday, June 23 at 1:00 p.m. Left-handed starter Brian Burres is expected to get the call for the Indians, while righty Richard De Los Santos is the probable starter for the Bulls.
The game can be heard on Indianapolis radio station WXLW-950 AM , or watched live on Comcast and Bright House Networks digital channel 81 with Howard Kellman and Scott McCauley giving you the play-by-play. The pre-game show on WXLW-950 AM begins at 12:40 p.m
EXTRA GAME NOTES
- With the win the Indianapolis Indians move to 39-33 as Durham falls to 42-29 on the season. The Tribe still sit 3.0 games back of the International Leagues West Division leaders Columbus and 2.0 games behind Toledo. The Durham Bulls still hold the best record in the entire International League.
- After the Indians finish up this four-game stance with the Durham Bulls the Indians will play host to Toledo for a four-game series that could prove vital in both the division and wild-card races.
- Jeff Clement hit his third home run in just 11 games in Triple-A this season. Clement has played 45 games with the Pittsburgh Pirates so far this season and just rejoined the Indianapolis Indians on June 9, 2010 when Jose Tabata was called up to the parent club to make his major league debut.
- Indianapolis Indians infielder Doug Bernier hit his first home run in over a year and a half. The last time Bernier touched them all was on August 16, 2008. It had been 346 at bats for the Indy infielder since he last hit a home run.