INDIANAPOLIS -- The Indianapolis Indians (5-2) benefited from a five-run second inning and 7.0 solid frames of relief from it's bullpen to claim a 7-2 win and series sweep over the Toledo Mud Hens (1-6) on Wednesday afternoon at Victory Field. The Tribe has now won five straight games to move into sole possession of first place in the International League West Division, heading into Wednesday evening's slate of games.
Toledo threatened right out of the gate by putting two runners on in the first frame against Pittsburgh Pirates top prospect RHP Gerrit Cole. The Tribe right-hander initially avoided damage by striking out the side in the first, but a leadoff home run from 1B Jordan Lennerton in the second inning gave the Mud Hens an early 1-0 lead. Lennerton's solo shot marked the first time in the last four games that an opponent has found the scoreboard before the Indians. Cole (2.0 IP, 4 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 2 BB, 5 SO) settled in from in there, and despite the short outing, departed the contest having allowed only one earned run in his 2.0 innings of work.
The one-run lead wouldn't last for long as the Indians jumped all over Toledo LHP Pat Misch (L, 3.1 IP, 6 H, 7 R, 4 ER, 3 BB, SO) in the bottom of the second. RF Brett Carroll began the offensive assault when he singled on a grounder to right field, and 3B Jared Goedert reached on a fielder's choice to short, putting two runners on with one out. C Brian Jeroloman then knotted the contest at 1-1 with an RBI single to right, and 2B Ivan DeJesus Jr. followed with a deep sac-fly to right that plated Goedert and gave the Indians a 2-1 edge. Goedert, who hit a walkoff RBI single in the bottom of the 10th last night, has now produced five hits in his last four games, including two doubles, three runs scored and an RBI.
Following a two-out single from LF Darren Ford, Toledo appeared to be out of the woods when CF Felix Pie grounded to SS Gustavo Nunez. However, Ford was able to slide into second base to beat out Nunez's force attempt and keep the rally alive. The extended inning proved to be costly for Toledo when Indians SS Jordy Mercer slapped a deep fly to center that was misplayed by CF Quintin Berry, allowing all three base runners to cross home and put Indianapolis up 5-1.
Toledo attempted to climb back into the contest with a leadoff solo shot to center from RF Danny Dorn in the top of the third, but the Tribe nullified the tally with two of it's own in the fourth. Following a groundout from Ford, Pie poked a base knock to right-center and took second on a walk to Mercer. As DH Brandon Inge stepped in the batters box, both Pie and Mercer dashed toward third and second respectively, each advancing a bag on the double steal. Two batters later, Carroll plated both runners with a two-run single to left, widening the Tribe's advantage to 7-2 after four frames.
A five-run lead would be more than enough for the Indians bullpen as RHP Vic Black (2.0 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 2 BB, SO) and LHP Mike Zagurski (2.0 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 3 SO) combined to no-hit the 'Hens through the final 5.0 innings of the contest. The duo struck out four while walking just two to preserve the 7-2 victory.
The bullpen's cause was aided by a highlight-reel catch from Carroll, who leaped over the right-field wall to rob LF Nick Castellanos of an extra-base hit.
Right-hander Ryan Reid (3.0 IP, 4 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 0 BB, 1 SO) also turned in a fantastic effort out of the Indianapolis bullpen, going three innings to pick up his first win of the season for the Tribe.
Through the three-game sweep, the Indians pitching staff limited visiting Toledo to just five runs, while the Tribe's offense put up 13 scores after tallying just 12 runs through the season's first four contests. Indianapolis has now defeated the Mud Hens in seven straight matchups, and has not dropped a home game to Toledo since 8/31/2012.
After going 5-2 in the season-opening homestand, the Tribe will travel to Columbus to begin a 10-game road swing, the longest stretch of road games they will play this season. Indianapolis is expected to give the ball to RHP Kyle McPherson (0-0, 9.00) and Columbus is scheduled to start MLB veteran RHP Daisuke Matsuzaka (0-0, 3.60) in the first contest of the four-game series. First pitch on Thursday is set for 7:05 p.m. from Huntington Park.
The game will 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 -- C Brian Jeroloman
Q: How important was the fantastic effort by the bullpen today?
A: "They did a great job. Whenever they came in the game they were locked in. All those guys really helped us out today. Each guy came in and did their job."
Q: What is it like working with the group of impressive arms on this team?
A: "It's amazing. Could possibly be the best pitching staff I have ever been around, especially during my time in the minor leagues. It's truly impressive, each guy knows how to do it, knows what to do and knows how to take the ball and do their job."
Q: Coming off a successful homestand what's your first impression of this town and this ballpark?
A: "I have always loved this town. With I was with the Blue Jays in 2008, I played against the Indians here when I was with Syracuse. The ball club from coaches down is intense and just wants to win."