INDIANAPOLIS – Now with a record of 39-23, three games better than the next best team in the International League, and a seven-game win streak, the only thing hotter than the Indianapolis Indians right now is the weather outside.
Brent Morel and Jaff Decker combined to go 5-for-7 with 3 RBIs and starter Chris Volstad pitched seven strong innings as the Tribe defeated the Gwinnett Braves, 4-2, for their seventh consecutive victory on Thursday.
The Indians took an early lead in the first by scoring a run in an unusual way against Gwinnett starter Manny Banuelos.
Decker drew a one-out walk and came all the way around to score on a throwing error charged to Banuelos. The Braves’ starter had Decker picked off at first, but his throw to the bag was off and when first baseman Ryan Lavarnway struggled to corral the ball along the right field wall, Decker raced home to make it 1-0.
Indianapolis tacked on another run against Banuelos in the third, when Morel recorded the second of his three hits on the night. With Keon Broxton on first and two outs, the Indians’ third baseman drilled a RBI double into the gap in right center to bring Broxton home and make it 2-0.
In the fourth, the Braves got to Volstad for their only run against Indianapolis’ starter. After Adonis Garcia clubbed a single, Wil Nieves hit a RBI double to left to cut the Indians’ lead in half.
Volstad would shake off the run-scoring extra base hit, completing seven innings for the Tribe. He would earn his fifth win of the season in the end, allowing just one run on six hits and five strikeouts.
Banuelos, on the other hand, took his first loss of the year by surrendering two runs on five hits and three walks in six innings of work. The Braves came into Thursday’s game with a record of 9-2 when Banuelos took the mound, losing on Thursday for the first time since May 8.
Peter Moylan replaced Banuelos in the seventh, giving up a pair of runs that ended up being the difference in the game.
With runners on second and third and no one out, Decker dropped a two-run double into left field that pushed the Tribe’s lead to 4-1.
Gwinnett would respond in the top of the eighth, making it a 4-2 game against Indianapolis reliever Brad Lincoln. With one out and Eric Young Jr. standing at second, Sean Kazmar‘s groundout would score a run when new Indians’ first baseman John Bowker made a poor throw to third trying to throw Young Jr. out.
Blake Wood then came on in the ninth for Indianapolis, working around a lead-off single to earn his 17th save of the season and give the Tribe a 4-2 victory.
With their winning streak still intact, the Indians will try to make it eight in a row in game two of their series with Gwinnett on Friday. Game time from Victory Field is scheduled for 7:15 p.m. with Adrian Sampson (6-3, 2.69 ERA) serving as Indianapolis’ probable starting pitcher.
Bowker was acquired in a trade from the San Francisco Giants on Thursday, taking Hunter Morris‘ spot on the Indianapolis roster. Morris was placed on the disabled list with a right ankle sprain, retroactive to June 9.
Bowker started in place of Morris at first on Thursday, going 0-for-4 at the plate and making a run-scoring throwing error on defense. Bowker had a .263 batting average with three home runs and 12 RBIs in 43 games with Triple-A Sacramento before being dealt to the Pirates’ organization. This will be Bowker’s third stint with the Tribe, as he played in 131 games with Indianapolis between 2010 and 2011.