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Lambo leads Tribe to twin-bill sweep

Andrew Lambo homered in both games of the Tribe's DH sweep. (Photo by Bill Gentry -
Andrew Lambo homered in both games of the Tribe’s DH sweep. (Photo by Bill Gentry –

Andrew Lambo launched a home run in both contests of the Tribe’s doubleheader as the Indianapolis Indians (49-25) earned an 8-1 win in game one and 5-3 extra-innings triumph in game two of a twin-bill sweep of the Norfolk Tides (38-35) on Wednesday night at Harbor Park. The Tribe’s offense produced 25 total hits over the two games, including three homers, to emerge victorious in the pair of contests.

After remaining in a 3-3 deadlock from the fifth inning through the ninth frame during the second contest of Wednesday’s twin-bill, RF Brett Carroll put the go-ahead run on first when he drew a one-out walk in the top of the 10th. The Indians then elected to bring Tony Sanchez to the plate as a pinch hitter, and the slugger wasted no time in slamming a double that scooted all the way to center field to send Carroll racing home to put the Tribe ahead of the Tides.

As the relay throw came to the plate, it appeared that Carroll had been gunned down at home, however, C Luis Exposito dropped the sure-fire throw to allow Carroll to slide through the plate safely to give Indianapolis a 4-3 edge. Following a Norfolk pitching change, C Lucas May tacked on an insurance run with an RBI liner to right, but the extra offense proved unnecessary as RHP Erik Cordier (SV, 1.0 IP, 2 H, SO) yielded two base hits in the 10th before slamming the door on the Tides with a groundball double play and a strikeout to preserve the 5-3 Tribe victory.

Prior to trading a pair of runs through the first four frames in the back end of Wednesday’s doubleheader, the Indians used one swing of the bat to finally create some separation from Norfolk in the top of the fifth. 3B Jared Goedert opened the frame at the plate for Indianapolis, but saw a 2-0 count turn into a lazy fly ball for the first out of the inning. However, just one batter later, Lambo crushed a solo shot to right field to put the Tribe up 3-2.

Norfolk refused to go away easily, and continued the back-and-forth battle, albeit in a far more drawn out way as CF Jason Pridie, the first of seven batters that came to the plate in the inning, knocked a line-drive single to left in front of a walk to RF L.J. Hoes. Following back-to-back outs, the Tides clung to life with a two-out free pass to 2B Zelous Wheeler that loaded the bases.

Indianapolis starter Andy Oliver then worked a 2-2 count on 3B Brandon Waring and appeared to be poised to record another punchout, but one errant pitch and three fouls later, Waring watched ball four sail by for a bases-loaded walk that brought in Pridie from third and re-tied the game 3-3.

Despite a rough outing in which he gave up three runs and a season-high seven walks, Oliver (4.2 IP, 4 H, 3 ER, 7 BB, 7 SO) also tallied seven strikeouts to improve his season’s punchout total to an International League leading 86 whiffs. The southpaw gave way to right-handed reliever Brooks Brown(3.1 IP, H, SO), who allowed a lone hit in 3.1 shutout frames, before RHP Zack Thornton (W, 1.0 IP, SO) hurled a perfect ninth to earn the win. In the opening game of the doubleheader, Indianapolis used a vastly different style of play to earn the victory, as the Tribe’s offense jumped out to a 2-0 lead after just nine pitches into the ball game.

2B Josh Harrison led off the contest and immediately turned a 1-1 offering into a double that bounced all the way to the wall, before SS Chase d’Arnaud unleashed on the first pitch of his at-bat for an RBI triple that trickled into the right field corner to put the Tribe up 1-0. After working a 2-2 count, The Hit Collector 1B Matt Hague grounded Norfolk’s ninth pitch of the inning to short, allowing d’Arnaud to sprint home and extend the lead 2-0.

With a two-run lead under his belt, Pittsburgh Pirates rehabbing RHP Jeanmar Gomez (W, 5.0 IP, 0 H, 0 ER, BB, 4 SO) began what would ultimately turn into a lights-out effort for the evening. The right-hander needed just 52 pitches to cruise through 5.0 hitless frames and pick up his first win of the campaign for the Indians. To say Gomez was efficient would be an understatement, as the rehabbing hurler faced only two batters above the minimum through his shutout start.

Though the matchup remained closely contested at 2-0 through the first three innings, the Tribe broke it wide open by scoring at least one run in each of the last four frames. The offensive onslaught began with a single score in the fourth, courtesy of a leadoff double from Hague, who scored two batters later on a groundout from C Tony Sanchez. The Indians then added one more tally in the fifth, thanks to an RBI base knock from Harrison, to widen the advantage 4-0.

From there, the rout was on as both Goedert and Sanchez reached safely to open the sixth, setting the stage for LF Andrew Lambo, who promptly smashed a three-run homer to put the game out of reach at 7-0. Of Lambo’s first nine hits with the Indians this year, four have now been deposited over the fence, and the slugger’s 18 total homers between Indianapolis and Double-A Altoona is ranked tied for the fourth most in all of the minors.

All seven of the Tribe’s first runs in the doubleheader’s opening game were charged to Baltimore Oriole’s top prospect RHP Kevin Gausman (L, 6.0 IP, 10 H, 7 ER, BB, 4 SO), who was making his Triple-A debut after leaping from Double-A to the Majors earlier in the campaign. The right-hander walked just one and fanned four while collecting his first Triple-A loss.

Though inconsequential to the final outcome, both clubs traded solo shots in the seventh with Harrison capping off his three-hit effort on a longball, and 1B Buck Britton lifting a final-frame home run that broke up the shutout and concluded the Indians 8-1 blowout victory. Along with his homer, Harrison finished the pair of games with four total hits, and now leads the International League with 28 base knocks since May 31.

Indianapolis and Norfolk will now conclude their four-game series Thursday at 12:05 p.m. at Harbor Park. The Tribe is expected to send LHP Kris Johnson (5-3, 3.07 ERA) to the mound, while the Tides are scheduled to give the ball to RHP Jair Jurrjens (4-4, 3.82 ERA).

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