INDIANAPOLIS – While Jameson Taillon was recalled by the Pittsburgh Pirates and flirted with a no-hitter in the majors on Tuesday, the Indianapolis Indians were forced to call on Frank Duncan a day earlier than expected.
Duncan, who was penciled in as Indy’s starting pitcher for Wednesday afternoon, answered the call in a big way in Tuesday’s contest with six strong innings against the Pawtucket Red Sox. Indy’s hitters gave Duncan plenty of run support, too, as the Tribe hit three solo home runs on their way to a 6-2 win at Victory Field.
Each side went down in order in the first, but Josh Bell led off the bottom of the second with a boom against Pawtucket starter William Cuevas. Bell took over the team lead in homers with a deep solo shot to right, his eighth of the season, to give the Indians an early 1-0 advantage.
Bell would not hang on to that team lead in home runs for long, though, as Danny Ortiz matched him in the fourth. Ortiz crushed a two-out solo bomb to right center, number eight on the year for Indy’s outfielder, to make it a 2-0 game against Cuevas and the PawSox.
On the mound, Duncan rolled through his first four innings of work by shutting out Pawtucket on just 48 pitches. The Red Sox would break through and get on the scoreboard in the fifth, however, using a couple of singles to set up a RBI groundout from Jose Vinicio to make the score 2-1.
Duncan exited the ballgame after completing the sixth, leaving him with a final line of one run allowed on four hits and five strikeouts. The righty picked up his third win at the Triple-A level for his efforts, as well as tying his single game high mark of six innings pitched with the Indians.
Indianapolis would get that run back in a hurry, using a third solo home run to take a 3-1 lead in their half of the fifth. Gift Ngoepe played long ball this time, smoking his third homer of the season to give the Tribe their two-run cushion back.
The Indians kept the pressure on Cuevas from there, plating three more runs against the right-hander in the sixth. Jason Rogers and Ortiz reached with one out to start the rally, both coming around to score a batter later when Pedro Florimon ripped a two-run double. Florimon then touched home to make it 6-1 when Cuevas threw a two-out wild pitch in the inning.
Cuevas would make it through the sixth to reach the end of his night, but his final line would not be pretty. Pawtucket’s starter gave up six runs on nine hits on Tuesday, setting a new season high for earned runs allowed in a single start.
Indy’s bullpen led the Indians to victory after Duncan was lifted, using one perfect inning from Guido Knudson and two innings of one-run ball from Justin Masterson to secure the 6-2 series-opening win over the Sox.
Game two of this series will take place at the Vic at 1:35 p.m. on Wednesday afternoon. Sean O’Sullivan (4-2, 2.77 ERA) is scheduled to take the mound for the PawSox, with the Tribe’s starter to be determined.