INDIANAPOLIS – Coming off of a series opener in which the Columbus Clippers were spectacular on the pitcher’s mound, Indianapolis Indians starting pitcher Angel Sanchez made sure that the Tribe had their turn of pitching dominance on Tuesday.
Sanchez tossed seven innings of two-hit baseball, including striking out a career high-tying nine batters, as the Indians defeated the Clippers by a score of 3-1 at Victory Field to even the three-game set.
After a 26-minute rain delay pushed the game’s start time back, the Indians’ offense got after Columbus starter Shaun Marcum in the first and gave Sanchez the run support he needed to earn his second win with the team.
Keon Broxton led off the frame with a walk, then stole second and moved up to third on a Jaff Decker fly out to set up a good scoring chance for Corey Hart. In the first at-bat of his major league rehab assignment, Hart delivered and drilled a RBI single to center to make it 1-0. Hart would then get a good workout when Brent Morel came to the plate next, scoring all the way from first as Morel sent a triple to center that increased Indianapolis’ lead to two runs. John Bowker capped the Tribe’s big inning, scoring Morel on a sacrifice fly that pushed the home team’s lead to 3-0.
Tuesday’s game marked the first time since 2004 that Hart made a start with Indianapolis, when he recorded a .281 batting average with 15 home runs and 67 RBIs in 121 games. 2004 was also the last year that the Indians served as the Milwaukee Brewers‘ Triple-A affiliate, making Tuesday’s game the first time Hart appeared with the Tribe as a member of the Pittsburgh Pirates‘ organization.
The offense would slow down from there, as the Columbus pitching staff matched Sanchez’s great performance after the game’s opening inning.
Marcum lasted four innings for Columbus, allowing all three of his runs on two hits in the first. Nick Maronde and Carlos Marmol then combined to pitch the final four innings of the game for the Clippers, keeping the Indians scoreless on two hits and three walks.
The night belonged to Sanchez, though, as the Tribe’s starter shut out the Clippers in seven innings of work. Columbus would record two hits and two walks against Sanchez, as he faced only three batters over the minimum in just his third Triple-A start.
Brad Lincoln took over for Sanchez in the eighth, when the Clippers made things interesting by cutting into the Indians’ lead.
Tyler Holt drew an one-out walk and scored to make it 3-1 when Brett Hayes smoked a RBI double to left, forcing Indianapolis to get a pair of pitchers up in their bullpen. Lincoln would settle down and keep the game locked at 3-1, escaping further damage by striking out Tyler Naquin and getting Jose Ramirez to ground out.
Yhonathan Barrios replaced Lincoln in the ninth, retiring the Clippers in order to secure his first save of the year and the 3-1 win for the Tribe.
The Indians will look to take the series from Columbus in the rubber game of the series on Wednesday afternoon. First pitch from Victory Field is scheduled for 1:35 p.m. with Radhames Liz (0-1, 0.00 ERA) set to make his second start of the season for Indianapolis.