Don’t count out the Indianapolis Indians just yet. Starter Jeff Locke struck out eight and allowed just one run over seven strong innings, while second baseman Jordy Mercer drove in three and homered for the third straight game to help the Indianapolis Indians sweep away the Toledo Mud Hens with a 6-2 win on Wednesday afternoon at Victory Field.
With the win, Indianapolis improves to 74-66 on the season, while the loss drops Toledo’s record to 65-75. The win also gives the Indians a four-game series sweep over the Mud Hens and helps the Tribe finish with the 12-9 season series advantage.
Locke (7.0 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 0 BB, 8 SO) was brilliant on the afternoon, allowing just a single score over seven innings to earn his first career Triple-A victory and improve his record to 1-1 on the season. With the excellent outing, the young southpaw lowered his ERA to 1.93 (5 ER in 23.1 IP) with 19 strikeouts and just seven walks over four starts at the Triple-A level.
While Locke locked down Toledo, the Indians’ offense, led by Mercer, mashed their way to six runs on nine hits, including a four-run outburst in the bottom of the third. C Eric Fryer began the third inning rally when he reached on an error to lead-off the frame, before moving to second on a single by RF Miles Durham.
CF Gorkys Hernandez then loaded the bases by reaching on an infield single to set stage for the red-hot Pedro Ciriaco and Mercer. In a rare show of patience for the free swinging Ciriaco, who entered the game with just four walks over 265 at-bats, the Indians left fielder induced a bases loaded base on balls to force in the first run of the game.
Then after SS Brian Bocock plated another score with a sacrifice fly to center, Mercer stepped to plate looking to put the game out of reach. The Triple-A rookie came through with a clutch line drive base knock to center to bring home Hernandez and Ciriaco and push the Tribe advantage to 4-0.
The single, run scored and two RBI continued a red hot streak for Ciriaco, who in the four-game road/home series against Toledo collected nine hits in 21 at-bats for a .428 batting average, while scoring six runs and driving in five. Perhaps the only hitter on a bigger power surge for the Indians is Mercer, who tacked on another tally when he blasted a solo home run to lead off the bottom of the fifth.
The longball for Mercer was his third in as many days, joining former Indians OF John Bowker as the only Indians’ batter to accomplish that feat this season. The effort also continued a fantastic month of August for Mercer, who has hit .313 (35-for-112) with nine doubles, 15 RBI and an International League best 26 runs in the season’s final full month.
Joining Mercer and Ciriaco with top notch efforts at the plate on the afternoon for the Indians was All-Star 1B Matt Hague, who went 2-for-4 to extend his IL best hit total to 161, as well as Durham, who collected three base knocks for the Tribe for the third time this season.
The Indians bullpen continued to turn in strong efforts as LHP Garrett Olson (1.0 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 1 ER) and LHP Daniel Moskos (1.0 IP) finished off the contest with two solid innings of relief. On the other side, Mud Hens starter Adam Wilk (2.1 IP, 4 H, 4 R, 3 ER, 1 BB, 1 SO) was pinned with the loss to fall to 8-6 on the season after surrendering four runs (three earned) on four hits over just 2.1 innings of work.
After an off day on Thursday, Indianapolis begins the final home series of the season with a match up against Louisville on Friday.