LOUISVILLE, Ky. – Indianapolis Indians starting pitcher Chris Volstad has been solid on the mound all season, but on Friday he stepped up his game at the plate as well.
Volstad threw seven innings of one-run baseball and drove in four runs himself with a pair of doubles, as the Tribe cruised past the Louisville Bats by a score of 8-1 at Louisville Slugger Field.
The Indians got their offense going in the second, when they scored the first of their runs against Louisville starter Dylan Axelrod. Consecutive singles and a stolen base started the inning, leading the way for Dan Gamache to make it 1-0 with a sacrifice fly. Volstad came to bat next and recorded his first RBI of the night with a run-scoring double to push the Tribe’s advantage to 2-0.
Indianapolis proceeded to break the game open in the third, using another big hit from their pitcher to go ahead 6-0. Each of the inning’s first three batters reached, including a Josh Bell RBI single, to give the Indians a three-run lead. Axelrod was able to retire the next two batters he faced, but a hit by pitch loaded the bases for Volstad. The Tribe’s starter then unloaded the bases, ripping a double to left that handed Indianapolis a six-run cushion and increased his RBI total for the game to four.
Axelrod was pulled following the double and allowed six runs (two earned) on eight hits and a walk in 2 2/3 innings of work.
The Tribe added to their lead in the fifth against Bats reliever Joel Bender, as Elias Diaz did something he had not done since June 12. Indianapolis’ catcher led off the inning by hitting a home run, his fourth of the year, sending a solo shot to left to make it a 7-0 game.
Donovan Hand replaced Bender after two innings of relief work and the Tribe struck quickly, scoring their final run of the night with a two-out rally in the sixth. With Travis Snider on the first after an one-out single, Bell recorded a base knock with two gone and Diaz followed with a RBI in a second straight frame. Diaz’s run-scoring single, his 47th RBI of the season, increased Indianapolis’ lead to 8-0.
On the hill, Volstad was dominant through six scoreless innings of work. The right-hander gave up just two hits in that time, but three Louisville hits in the seventh spoiled Volstad’s shutout bid. All three base knocks came with two outs and Kyle Waldrop‘s single brought in the Bats’ lone run of the night.
Volstad ultimately surrendered one run on five hits and five strikeouts in seven innings pitched to pick up his team-leading 11th win. He has earned a win in five of his last seven decisions, giving up just five runs combined in those winning starts.
Indianapolis relievers Radhames Liz and Blake Wood locked up the much-needed victory from there, as they each tossed a scoreless frame out of the bullpen.
With the win and a Columbus Clippers loss on Friday, the Tribe gain a game back in the International League West standings. Their lead over Columbus is now two games and their magic number to clinch the division crown is nine.
With their series against Louisville complete, the Indians will now head to Toledo to begin a two-game set with the Mud Hens on Saturday. Game time from Fifth Third Field is 7:00 p.m. with Wilfredo Boscan (9-3, 3.00 ERA) scheduled to pitch for Indianapolis.