LAWRENCEVILLE, Ga. – After six consecutive losses to start their seven-game road trip, the Indianapolis Indians are headed home with a win.
Indians starting pitcher Angel Sanchez recorded his first career win and quality start at the Triple-A level and Brent Morel went 2-for-4 with a home run and three RBIs as the Tribe defeated the Gwinnett Braves, 4-3, at Coolray Field on Thursday.
Morel’s big night started in the top of the first, when Indianapolis’ third baseman took Braves starter Cody Martin deep. After Willy Garcia came up with a two-out single, Morel crushed a two-run homer to center that gave the Indians an early 2-0 advantage.
Gwinnett responded in the second, when their catcher showed off his speed to help cut into the Indians’ lead.
Christian Bethancourt led off the frame with a single against Sanchez and then proceeded to steal both second and third base to give Todd Cunningham a good RBI opportunity. Cunningham would take advantage, recording a run-scoring groundout that made it a 2-1 game.
In the third, Morel’s success at the plate continued with another run producing at-bat. Keon Broxton reached on a fielding error and stole second with two outs, setting the stage for Morel to bring him home with a RBI single that gave the Tribe their two-run lead back.
Indianapolis’ lead would not last long, however, as Sanchez ran into trouble in Gwinnett’s half of the third.
Mallex Smith led off with a single and stole second before Jose Peraza put runners on the corners with a base knock of his own. Sanchez then allowed Gwinnett to cut the Tribe’s lead in half when he was charged with an error on a poor pickoff throw to first. Peraza moved up to second on the run-scoring error and then advanced to third on an Eric Young Jr. groundout before Adonis Garcia tied the game at three runs each with a RBI single to center.
Sanchez would settle down after giving up three runs in the game’s first three innings, allowing three runs on seven hits in six innings on the mound. The work Sanchez put in on Thursday would give him his first Triple-A quality start.
Then in the seventh, the Indians’ offense would do the work to give Sanchez his first Triple-A victory.
Martin remained in the game for the Braves and Indianapolis would strike, scoring the game’s winning run in the inning. Tony Sanchez led off by drawing a walk, Gorkys Hernandez followed by reaching on a fielding error and after a sacrifice bunt from Pedro Florimon moved both runners into scoring position, Gustavo Nunez gave the Tribe a 4-3 lead with a RBI groundout.
Gwinnett’s starter would complete the seventh, surrendering four runs (two earned) on five hits and six strikeouts.
Now with a late lead, Indianapolis’ bullpen took over to end the Tribe’s losing skid.
John Holdzkom was perfect in both the seventh and eighth, before Blake Wood wiggled out of a jam in the ninth to earn his 19th save of the year. Wood issued an one-out walk to Sean Kazmar and gave up a two-out single to Cedric Hunter, but got Smith to ground out for the game’s final out.
The Indians will try to move on from a rough six-loss road trip when they begin a six-game home stand at Victory Field on Friday night. First pitch from Indianapolis is scheduled for 7:15 p.m. with Radhames Liz (0-1, 0.00 ERA) set to make his first start of the season after making three relief appearances with the Tribe.