Indians All-Star 1B Matt Hague hit a two-run double and 3B Pedro Alvarez launched a two-run homer as part of a five-run extra-inning rally, while LF John Bowker recorded four hits, to push Indianapolis past the Toledo Mud Hens 8-3 on Sunday night at Fifth Third Field.
With the win, Indianapolis improves to 71-66 this year, while the loss drops Toledo’s record to 65-72. The victory also gives Indians a 1-0 lead in the series, as well as a 9-9 draw in the season series with the Mud Hens.
Entering the extra-frame tied at 3-3, the Indianapolis offense busted out for five runs in the tenth to lead them to victory. 2B Jordy Mercer drew a lead-off walk and moved to second on Bowker’s single, while Hague followed with his two-run double to left to score both Mercer and Bowker.
Hague then was plated when Alvarez blasted his fourth home run of the year to right center to extend the margin to four. DH Andy Marte kept the frame going with a double to center and advanced to third on RF Miles Durham’s base knock, before coming across on a force out to make it 8-3. Alvarez commented on his blow. “It’s just a matter of trying to string together some good at bats and stick with my approach and that’s what I’ve been doing. I was trying to get a pitch I could handle, put a good swing on and make some solid contact. I got a 1-1 fastball over the plate. I put a good swing on it and once it left the bat it felt pretty good. You know, everything we’ve been working on came to fruition and I got to take that into tomorrow and build off of that.”
Both offenses were held in check until the fourth, when the Indians struck first to take a 1-0 lead. SS Pedro Ciriaco led off the frame with a single, stole second and moved to third on a fly out, before coming home on when Bowker lifted a sacrifice fly to right.
The lead would be shortlived however, as Toledo answered right back to two tallies in the bottom half the inning. LF Timo Perez began the rally with a double and moved to third on 1B Ryan Strieby’s base knock, prior to coming across on an RBI single from DH Scott Thorman. Consecutive groundouts then sent Strieby to third and eventually home, with the RBI groundout courtesy of CF Jeff Salazar giving Toledo a 2-1 advantage.
The Indians however, grabbed back the lead in the sixth with a pair of scores to make it 3-2. CF Gorkys Hernandez drew a lead-off walk and was brought in when Ciriaco doubled to left to tie the contest, while Mercer followed with an RBI base knock to right that brought home Ciriaco.
But the Mud Hens drew the contest even at 3-3 with a run in the seventh frame. Salazar began the game-tying rally with a walk, before a base hit from SS Audy Ciriaco, the older brother of Indians SS Pedro Ciriaco, moved Salazar to second. C Omir Santos subsequently scored Salazar with a base knock to center to tie the game, but the Mud Hens were unable to plate more runs, ending the inning with the bases loaded.
Bowker (4-for-5, 1 R, 1 RBI) led both teams with his four-hit performance, while Ciriaco (2-for-6, 2 R, 1 2B, 1 RBI), Alvarez (2-for-4, 1 R, 1 HR, 2 RBI, 1 BB) and Durham (2-for-5) all collected two hits for the Tribe. Salazar was the only Toledo batter to record a multi-hit effort in the contest.
Toledo reliever Robbie Weinhardt (1.0 IP, 5 H, 5 R, 5 ER, 1 BB) suffered the loss to fall to 1-4 after giving up five earned runs on five hits in his inning of work, while Indians LHP Justin Thomas (2.2 IP, 1 H, 1 BB, 5 SO) earned the win to improve to 7-2 after allowing just one hit and fanning five in 2.2 shutout frames of relief.
Both teams’ starters did not factor in the final decisions, with Tribe RHP Sean Gallagher (7.0 IP, 7 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 3 BB, 2 SO) giving up three earned runs on seven hits in seven frames, while Toledo RHP Thad Weber (6.0 IP, 5 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 3 BB, 2 SO) allowed three earned runs on five hits in six innings.
Indianapolis now continues their four-game road/home series with Toledo on Monday. RHP Nelson Figuera is scheduled to get the nod for the Tribe, while LHP Fu-Te Ni is scheduled to take the mound for the Mud Hens.