Thursday night was a good night to be an Indianapolis sports fan. The sun was shining bright, the heat was almost enjoyable and Victory Field was rocking as the Indianapolis Indians dismantled the Durham Bulls 9-1 to gain a 2-2 series spilt. The tribe delighted the nearly 10,000 fans in downtown Indianapolis on both sides of the ball, but the true star of Thursday night’s game was starting pitcher Charlie Morton.
The right-handed Morton was making his fourth start for the Indy Indians and was still in search of his first victory for the team. Before making his way to the Circle City, Morton made 10 starts for the parent club Pittsburgh Pirates and was 1-9 with a 9.75 ERA. He was sent to the Indians to pitch a few rehabs starts for what was classified and arm fatigue.
You wouldn’t have thought Morton (9.0 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 4 SO) was the same man as the often battered Pirate since he allowed only one run on two hits for the entire nine innings of work. And as well as Morton pitched, the Tribes batsmen were out in full force as well.
Indians stating pitcher Charlie Morton was at the top of his game and he threw a two-hit complete game to earn his first Triple-A victory of the season.
The Hoosier-hardballers got it going early on in the home half of the second inning when both first basemen Jeff Clement and designated hitter Brian Myrow lead off with back-to-back walks. Both runners advanced a base when catcher Eric Kratz grounded softly to second base. Center fielder Jonathan Van Every hit a sacrifice fly that brought home the first run of the game in Clement. While the 1-0 lead was all the Tribe could muster in the second, there was more to come, plenty more.
The visiting Bulls looked as though they were going to trade punches with the hometown Indians when they were able to tie the game in the top of the third inning.
Durham’s starting third basemen Angel Chavez drew a walk to lead off and moved to second when second basemen J.J. Furmaniak was hit by a pitch. With two on and no outs center fielder Fernando Perez grounded into 2-6-3 double play which left Chavez the lone survivor standing on third. Any thoughts that Morton had of getting out of the inning unscathed ended when left fielder Desmond Jennings singled on a soft ball to third base that Steve Pearce had difficulty fielding and threw into right field trying to make the inning-ending play at first. Error aside, the Indians got out of the inning tied 1-1.
The Tribe struck again in the bottom of the third when, with one out, right fielder Brandon Moss singled to right field and moved into scoring position on a walk drawn by second basemen Jim Negrych. Third basemen Steve Pearce made amends for his throwing error by singled to center field and driving home Moss from the second. The inning ended when two Tribesmen struck out, but Morton now had a 2-1 as he returned to the mound for more work.
Indians new second basemen Jim Negrych has only been with the Tribe for a few weeks but he has already shown Indianapolis sports fans he is ready to do whatever it takes to win.
The 2-1 score held until the bottom of the sixth inning when Myrow drew a one-out walk and advanced to second on a Kratz single to left field. Van Every also drew a walk to load the bases full of Indians with one out. Shortstop Argenis Diaz who is better known for his glove work than his bat showed his big league potential by shooting a line drive single to center field that scored both Myrow and Kratz. The two runs brought the score to 4-1.
The Indians showed the International League leading Durham Bulls how we say goodbye in Indiana with a five run bottom of the eight that brought a fireworks display to The Vic a day early. Myrow lead off the frame with a double to left, his 10 two-bagger of the year. Kratz singled again and the home team had runners at the corners and no outs. Center fielder Van Every drew his second walk of the day to load the bases. Diaz plated Myrow on a ground out to his counterpart Durham shortstop before Indians left fielder Kevin Melillo worked a walk of his own to load the sacks once more.
Seeing his opportunity to blow the game wide open, Brandon Moss stepped to the plate ready to swing a big bat. ANd swing a big bat he did as he launched a 2-1 fastball into the seats just inside the right field foul pole for the greatest of all home runs, a grand slam. The blast was the eight homer Moss has hit this season for the Tribe.
Brandon Moss was all smiles in the dugout after hitting a grand slam in the eight inning to put the game out of reach.
With his pitch count still low and a lead that would take some work to give away, Morton walked out to the rubber to finish what he started. He picked up two quick ground outs and dotted the exclamation point on the victory with a strikeout to end the contest.
With the win Morton now moves to an overall record of 1-1 while Durham Bulls pitcher Aneury Rodriguez (5.0 IP, 4 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 3 BB, 4 SO) was saddled with the loss and moves to 3-5 on the season. The other Durham pitchers who had a hand in the Tribes 9-1 were relievers Justin Garcia (2.0 IP, 2 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 2 BB, 2 SO) and Mike Ekstrom (0.1 IP, 3 H, 5 R, 5 ER, 2 BB). Both of whom gave up multiple runs.
While the Bulls have left town, the Indians will stick around all weekend for another four-game series with division rivals the Toledo Mud Hens who sit just one game above the Indians for second place in the West. It is going to be a gorgeous weekend in so make an Indians game a must see Indianapolis attraction this weekend.
Friday night’s game will start at 7:15 p.m.with right-hande Mike Crotta getting the start for the Indians.Right-hander L. J. Gagnier is the probable starter for the Mud Hens. The game will be followed by a fireworks display as does every Friday night home game for the Indians. the controlled explosives are the icing on the cake for what is one of the best things to do in Indianapolis with the entire family.
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 6:55 p.m
EXTRA GAME NOTES
- Indians stating pitcher Charlie Morton’s complete game was the first complete game thrown by an Indianapolis Indians pitcher since left-hander Michael Tejera went the distance against the Charlotte Knights on July 28, 2007.
- Brandon Moss’s grand slam was the first 4 RBI long ball hit at Victory Field this season. Earlier this year Brian Myrow went deep with the bases load on a road trip in Rochester agains the Red Wings.
- With the win, the Indianapolis Indians move to an overall record of 40-34 which places them 4.0 games behind International League West Division leaders Columbus and just 1.0 game back of the Toledo Mud Hens who are in Indy for a four-game set that will go a long way in deciding who is a pretender and contender for this year’s post season.
- The Indians find themselves just 1.0 game back of both Toledo and Scranton/Wilkes Barre for the Wild Card position.
- As a team, the Indianapolis Indians lead the International league in both walks (296) and strike outs (575).
- With the loss, the Durham Bulls finish up a nine-game road trip in which they went 4-4 with one rain out. They now own a record of 43-30 which is the best record in the entire International League.