NORFOLK, VA – In Thursday afternoon’s rubber game with the Norfolk Tides (20-17), the Indianapolis Indians (20-17) followed starting pitcher Clay Holmes‘ lead.
Holmes threw six shutout innings, limiting the Tides to just two hits, as Indy nabbed a 6-0 victory to close out the three-game set. Thursday’s game was scoreless through five innings, but the Tribe scored six runs over the course of the day’s final four innings to seal the win.
Holmes, who turned in nine scoreless innings through his first two starts of his 2018 Triple-A season, had given up a total of 14 runs (12 earned) in his last three starts (14.1 innings). The right-hander was back to his shutout ways on Thursday.
He issued leadoff walks in both the first and second innings, but calmly worked around both spots. Norfolk got a couple of runners on in the fourth, using a one-out double and hit by pitch to put the pressure on Holmes, but he wiggled off of the hook run-free. And in the sixth, Renato Nunez singled with one out but was thrown out at second as he attempted to stretch the knock into a double.
When the dust settled, Holmes blanked the Tides on two hits and two walks. He also tied a season best in strikeouts with seven, helping him pick up the win to even his record at 2-2.
Holmes nearly didn’t get that win, as Indianapolis didn’t score their first run of the day until the top of the sixth.
Tides right-handed starter Jimmy Yacabonis tossed four innings of shutout ball, but consecutive one-out hits in the sixth got the Indians on the board against Norfolk reliever Jason Gurka. Austin Meadows singled and hustled home, making it a 1-0 game when Jordan Luplow doubled.
Gurka completed a clean seventh to get through three frames of work, but his replacement in the eighth was hit hard by Indy.
Jhan Martinez‘s first batter faced was Chris Bostick, who led off with homer to right. A one-out walk, followed by a single, put runners on the corners. Martinez got Eric Wood to strike out swinging, but Erich Weiss came up next with a double and pushed the Indians ahead 3-0. Ryan Lavarnway then provided the knockout blow, a two-run single.
Luplow contributed another RBI double in the ninth, sending us to our final score of 6-0.
Behind Holmes, the duo of Tanner Anderson and Josh Smoker took the Tribe to the finish line. Anderson worked two clean innings of relief, dodging some trouble when two Tides reached in the eighth. Smoker pitched the ninth, sitting Norfolk down 1-2-3 to wrap up the victory for Indy.
Next up for the Indians is a rematch of 2017’s International League semifinal series, in which they fell in four games to the Durham Bulls. Friday’s opener is set for 7:05 p.m. with a pair of rehabbing MLB hurlers scheduled to pitch. Pittsburgh Pirates rehabber Joe Musgrove (1-0, 0.00 ERA) gets a second start with the Tribe, while Tampa Bay Rays rehabber Nathan Eovaldi goes for the Bulls.