Indians Find Their Stroke: Plate 9 in First Home Victory of the Season

Looking to set the tone for the Indianapolis Indians Sunday afternoon at Victory Field, third basemen Neil Walker lead off the home half of the first inning by taking the second pitch offered deep and out. In true Pied Piper fashion, Walker lead and the rest of the Indy Indians followed. Swinging some big bats, the Indians chalked up their first home victory of the 2010 season as they bested the Toledo Mud Hens 9-6.

Scoring runs has been a major problem for the Indianapolis sports baseball franchise so far this season, but not today.  The Tribe scored early and often on Sunday as they posted at least one run in their first four innings of play, while jumping out to a 7-1 lead. And if scoring was the story of the day, two-run home runs was the subplot, as Indianapolis had two and Toledo had one.

Even though there wasn’t a cloud in the sky over downtown Indy, hits seemed to be falling from the heavens for the home team as every Indians starter collected at least one hit for a total of 13–the Tribe’s second highest total of the season.

The Indians took their biggest lead of the season when left fielder Brandon Moss put a two-run shot out to right center, which scored right fielder Steve Pearce. On the pitch prior to Moss’ home run, Pearce attempted to steal second and seemed dead to rights on the throw from Mud Hens catcher Robinson Diaz; but second basemen Will Rhymes somehow missed the tag. The Moss shot put the Hoosier hardballers up 5-0.

Toledo starting pitcher Ruddy Lugo (4.0 IP, 8 H, 7 R, 6 ER, 2 BB, 4 SO) seemed peeved with the lack of application, even more so when his next pitch ended up as a souvenir in the lawn seats behind the right field fence. To add insult to injury, had Pearce been thrown out at second it would have ended the inning. Lugo was tagged with the loss, dropping his record to 1-2 on the year.

The Indians right-handed starter Kevin Hart (4.1 IP, 4 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 2 BB, 6 SO) was impressive through his first three innings before giving up one run in the fourth to Toledo, and getting into a jam he couldn’t pitch out of in the fifth.

The Mud Hens got two back in the top of the fifth, which chased Hart from the contest, but Toledo was unable to capitalize with bases loaded in the same inning. Hart was on the hook for the two runs Toledo added in the frame, and ended his day with a no decision.

Continuing with the two-run home run theme, Indians center fielder Jonathan Van Every tagged Lugo in the fourth inning for a ball that didn’t stop until it rolled across West Street, well beyond the confines of the Vic. The 7-1 lead let Indiana baseball fans breathe a sigh of relief, for a few minutes anyway.

The big bat of top prospect Pedro Alvarez got into the action when it connected on a 3-1 pitch for a single in the bottom of the sixth inning with the bases loaded and two outs. Alvarez’ one hit was good enough to plate two more Indian runners and increase his RBI total to 11 on the season. Pedro’s 11 runs batted in leads the team and is good enough for third best in the International League.

The dicey Indianapolis bullpen made things a bit more interesting by giving up 2 runs in the seventh and 1 more in the eight before the Indians closer Jean Machi threw a scoreless ninth inning to secure the win.

Jean Machi induced a double play ground ball to shortstop Brian Friday to record his second save of the season. Ball game over, thanks for coming out.

Extra Game Notes

  • Today’s win improves the Indians record to 4-7, which still leaves them in last place in the International League West Division.
  • In his first appearance in an Indians uniform, left-handed reliever Justin Thomas (2.1 IP, 3 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 0 BB, 1 SO) picked up the all-important win for the Tribe.
  • Leadoff hitter Neil Walker got the Tribe going early with a deep fly ball that found its way over the right-field fence for his first home run since last August. It was also the Indians first leadoff home run in downtown Indianapolis since ex-Indians infielder Brian Bixler went yard on August 19, 2009, in front of the home town fans.  Walker finished the day a triple short of the cycle which, thanks to the huge dimensions of Victory Field, is not an uncommon occurrence. Triples that is, not hitting for the cycle.
  • The Indians win today breaks a three game losing streak and marks the first time all season our boys have bested the Mud Hens. The Indians are now 1-4 against Toledo, but can even this home opening series with a win tomorrow night against their International League West Division rivals.

The Indianapolis Indians are at it again Monday night at Victory Field. The game will start at 7:05 p.m. and will be the fourth and final game against the Toledo Mud Hens in the home opening series. With sunshine and clear skies predicted for Monday night, there is no reason you shouldn’t make your way down to the ball park and be part of the action that makes Indians games a must attend Indianapolis event.

For more information about Monday’s, or any upcoming Indians games, visit the Tribes Web site here.