INDIANAPOLIS – On the heels of a season-worst six-game losing streak, the Indianapolis Indians (26-27) were desperate to get back on track on Saturday night. They did just that in a big way.
Kevin Kramer capped a five-run first with a three-run homer and starting pitcher Clay Holmes threw seven scoreless innings, as the Tribe notched a 8-0 rout of the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders (25-29) at Victory Field.
Holmes was so good on Saturday that he didn’t need much run support, but he got it in an instant when Indy put up a five spot in the bottom of the first.
Facing one of the New York Yankees‘ top pitching prospects in Justus Sheffield, a double and a walk set the stage for Indianapolis with two outs. Tribe catcher Jacob Stallings came through with the big hit, a broken bat single that plated both runners. Kramer provided the exclamation mark after an Eric Wood single, a three-run shot to right that sent the Indians ahead 5-0.
Sheffield settled in with four straight shutout innings, but Indy chased him in the sixth. A leadoff walk spelled the end of his evening, with the RailRiders calling on their bullpen. Brady Lail entered, but gave up three consecutive singles to see the Tribe lead 6-0. A productive double play ball from Wyatt Mathisen later pushed the Indians ahead 7-0.
Mathisen grabbed another RBI in the eighth, this time via a sacrifice fly, to wrap up the home team’s scoring for the game.
The visitors never did score, which must have been refreshing for an Indians squad that was blanked in back-to-back contests entering Saturday.
Holmes was dealing for the Indy, matching a career best with seven innings pitched. The righty limited Scranton to six hits and no walks, while striking out a season-high eight batters. It was a good response from Holmes, who gave up six runs on nine hits his last time out in Charlotte.
Behind Holmes, Josh Smoker and Johnny Hellweg completed the shutout. Each reliever issued one walk, but worked around the bases on balls to turn in scoreless frames and send the Indians to a victory.
Indianapolis will wrap up the homestand versus Scranton on Sunday at 1:35 p.m. Tyler Eppler (4-2, 3.14 ERA) is penciled in as the Tribe probable starting pitcher for the finale.