INDIANAPOLIS -- Starter Kris Johnson scattered six hits and struck out five over five scoreless innings of work, while second baseman Brandon Inge blasted a solo home run to propel the Indianapolis Indians to a 3-0 victory over the Columbus Clippers on Sunday afternoon at Victory Field.
Making his first start of the season for the Tribe, Johnson (5.0 IP, 6 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 2 BB, 5 SO) worked around six hits and two walks by using five strikeouts to finish off five scoreless frames and earn the victory. Johnson would also be spotted an early lead as Inge blasted a ball over the right field fence with two outs in the bottom of the first to give the Indians a 1-0 lead they would not relinquish.
The longball for Inge was his first hit in an Indianapolis uniform and 201st longball of his career, including 151 in the Majors. Inge would also later draw his fourth walk in as many games this season and add an eighth-inning single to finish as the only batter on either side to reach base three times on the afternoon.
While Johnson held down the Columbus offense, the Indians would tack on two insurance tallies with single scores in both the fifth and seventh.
Indianapolis ran their way to the second score of the contest after a base hit from C Lucas May and walk by 3B Oscar Tejeda put runners on first second with one out. The duo then both took off from their respective bag in a double steal attempt that resulted in a Columbus throwing error to allow May to speed home. With the double steal, the Tribe now has five steals in the last two games.
The suddenly surging Matt Hague would spark the Indians final scoring rally as he rolled a double to left with one out in the bottom of the seventh, before coming plateward when LF Darren Ford lifted a two-out single to center. Hague joined Inge as the only Indians' batters with multi-hit efforts on the afternoon, and has now collected four hits, three doubles and three runs scored over his last two games.
The Indianapolis bullpen also turned in a stellar effort on the afternoon as RHP Ryan Reid and RHP Vic Black combined for four scoreless innings in relief of Johnson. Reid (2.0 IP, 2 SO) struck out two in two perfect frames of work to earn his first hold, while Black (2.0 IP, 2 H, 1 SO) notched his first save of the season with two scoreless innings of his own.
Starter Fernando Nieve (6.0 IP, 3 H, 2 R, 1 ER, 2 BB, 7 SO) took a tough-luck loss for the Clippers as the Major League veteran struck out seven and allowed just one earned run over six innings, but was ultimately outdueled by Johnson and the Tribe bullpen.
Columbus RF Jeremy Hermida continued to destroy Indianapolis pitching in a losing effort, posting his third straight multi- hit contest with a pair of singles. He finished the four-game series with seven hits, four runs, four extra-base hits and six RBI.
Following the series split with Columbus, Indianapolis will now welcome Toledo to Victory Field for a three-game set beginning on Monday night at 7:05 p.m. RHP Phil Irwin is scheduled make his season debut for the Tribe after earning the team's lone playoff victory in 2012, and will be opposed by Mud Hens LHP Jose Alvarez.
The contest will be televised on HTSN, Hometown Sports and News, available via cable or over-the-air on digital channel 6.2. The game will also be carried on WNDE 1260 AM, WNDE.com and via iheartradio, a mobile application for iPhone, Blackberry and Android phones with Howard Kellman and Will Flemming on the call. The pre-game show begins at 6:45 p.m.
Post-game quotes -- 2B Brandon Inge
Q: How does your shoulder feel and how is your rehab stint going?
A: "It feels much better, much better. I'm glad to be down here. I played in this stadium a long time ago and it's good to be back here. It's always a beautiful park and a beautiful city and I love it here."
Q: We know that you joined the Pirates as a non-roster invitee. You make the club out of spring training and you've said that you like what you saw with the big-league club.
A: "Yeah I did. There are a lot of good players there, a lot of good people. And that's what makes a good team actually. You know, everyone's going to have pretty good talent but it's the character you have in the clubhouse that makes a good ballclub."
Q: How does it feel to get a double-play ball made to order hit right to you to end the game.
A: "Yeah, I like those. Double-play balls are fun; two-for-one combo. It's good to get that out of the way and get the win."