INDIANAPOLIS – Losers of nine of their last ten games and four in a row, the Indianapolis Indians needed a win in the worst way on Wednesday. With some good pitching and quality hitting, they got it.
Starting pitcher Tyler Eppler tossed six innings of two-run ball and three Tribe hitters recorded multiple RBIs, as Indy got off the schneid with an 8-5 win over the Durham Bulls at Victory Field.
Durham starter Brent Honeywell made his Triple-A debut on Wednesday, but it got off to a rocky start thanks to Indy’s Max Moroff. The Tribe’s shortstop led off the bottom of the first with a homer to right, giving him the International League lead with five.
Eppler entered Wednesday’s game with an 11-inning scoreless streak, but that run came to a stop in the second after 12 1/3 frames. Patrick Leonard got things rolling for the Bulls with a leadoff single and scored a few batters later on a Michael McKenry long ball, making it a 2-1 Durham lead.
Indianapolis would respond in the fourth, though, using another home run to go back in front. Chris Bostick got the inning going with a double and after Austin Meadows advanced him to third on a groundout, Jason Rogers smacked a two-run shot over the right field wall to give the Indians the 3-2 advantage.
Honeywell would work six innings in his first start at the level, finishing with a final line of three runs allowed on six hits and a walk.
Eppler also worked six innings, limiting the Bulls to two runs on six hits and three strikeouts. He picked up the win, his second straight, to go to 2-0 on the year.
Indy ran into trouble in their first inning without Eppler on the mound, as reliever Pat Light walked the tightrope. The right-hander surrendered consecutive singles and hit a batter to load the bases with one out, but was able to get out of dodge with a groundout and an inning-ending punchout.
The seventh inning has not been kind to the Indians lately, with Toledo scoring six runs to pull away on Sunday and Durham beginning their comeback in the frame on Tuesday. That finally changed on Wednesday.
Indianapolis broke the game open a bit in their half of the seventh this time around, scoring three runs to grab a 6-2 lead. Moroff drove home the first run of the frame on a slow rolling ground ball, with Rogers and Joey Terdoslavich each singling home runs to push the Tribe ahead by four.
The Indians did get a scare in the top of the eighth when Granden Goetzman hit a moonshot three-run homer to left, cutting Indy’s lead back down to one, but the home team would prevail.
Indianapolis got two of those three runs back in their half of the eighth, as Bostick delivered a two-run double down the right field line. Indians reliever Edgar Santana then completed a four-out save with a perfect ninth, securing the 8-5 win.
Wednesday’s victory was Indy’s 100th all-time against the Bulls in the IL era. The Tribe will go for win number 101 and a series victory over Durham when the teams meet up again in the rubber game on Thursday. Game time is set for 11:05 a.m. with Clay Holmes (0-1, 11.57 ERA) slated to pitch for the Indians.
Reliever Johnny Barbados, who the Pittsburgh Pirates acquired in a deal with the New York Yankees on Tuesday, has been added to Indy’s roster. Right-hander Brett McKinney has been transferred to extended Spring Training as a corresponding move.