INDIANAPOLIS -- Right-handed starter Gerrit Cole was masterful on the mound, spinning 7.0 shutout innings of three-hit ball, while center fielder Felix Pie doubled home designated hitter Josh Harrison in the bottom of the fourth for the Tribe's lone run as the Indianapolis Indians (41-20) eked out a 1-0 shutout win over the Durham Bulls (38-22) on Wednesday afternoon at Victory Field. With the win, the Tribe improved its league-leading shutout total to seven on the season.
For his second straight start, Cole (W, 7.0 IP, 3 H, 0 ER, BB, 3 SO) was nearly unhittable as he limited Durham's top-ranked offense to just three scattered hits through 7.0 shutout innings en route to picking up his fifth win of the season. The right-hander cruised through his outing, allowing just four batters to reach safely and none to advance past second base. After yielding a leadoff single to open the contest, Cole dialed in to retire the next seven hitters he faced, and after giving up another single in the third, sat the next 13 batters down in order.
After allowing two earned runs on three hits in the first inning on May 25 at Buffalo, Cole finished the start with 5.2 hitless innings before allowing a combined five base hits over 14.0 shutout frames during his next two starts, including Wednesday's outing, to conclude today's outing riding a 19.2 consecutive scoreless innings streak. Overall, through his last three starts, the top prospect has posted an incredible 0.90 ERA (2 ER in 20.0 IP) with 12 strikeouts to just five walks.
With Cole in complete control on the hill, the Indians needed just a lone score to give their ace the victory. DH Josh Harrison proved to be the hero for the home squad as the speedster was plunked by a pitch and quickly dashed to third on an errant pickoff throw from RHP J.D. Martin that scooted all the way to right field.
Following a strikeout to 1B Matt Hague, LF Felix Pie produced the contest's only RBI as he knocked his third double in the last six games to bring Harrison trotting home to put the Tribe up 1-0. The duo's performance marked the epitome of each of their season, especially the last six games, as Pie has now plated eight runs in that six-game span, while Harrison has scored runs in each of those six contests, totaling eight runs over that span.
The one-run lead proved to be enough as Cole gave way to LHP Kris Johnson (SV, 2.0 IP, 2 H, 0 ER, 3 SO), who navigated 2.0 scoreless innings in his first relief appearance since May 3. Johnson, who picked up his first save since April 6, 2012 vs. Erie while he was pitching for Double-A Altoona, surrendered just two hits and no walks while striking out three to preserve the 1-0 shutout victory.
For Durham, right-handed starter Martin (L, 7.2 IP, 6 H, 1 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 2 SO) suffered a tough-luck loss after allowing just one unearned run through 7.2 innings in which he was touched for six hits while he walked one and struck out two.
Despite his quality start, the right-hander was ultimately the cause of his own downfall when he whipped the wild pickoff throw that jettisoned into right field. He departed the contest just one out shy of a complete-game, as left-hander Jeff Beliveau (0.1 IP, SO) recorded a strikeout to end the eighth.
The Tribe and Bulls will continue their four-game series tomorrow at 7:05 p.m. at Victory Field. Indianapolis is expected to give the ball to Pittsburgh Pirates rehabbing right-hander James McDonald (NR) while Durham is scheduled to counter with top pitching prospect RHP Jake Odorizzi (4-1, 4.01).
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.
Postgame Interview with LHP Kris Johnson
(on coming out of the bullpen today rather than starting)
"Yeah closing's a whole different kind of animal. I've been starting all year [but] it's good to show diverse things you can do, I guess. It's nice to get out in the bullpen again."
(on whether he had a different mentality coming out of the bullpen as opposed to starting)
"You've got to make sure you have everything working. Usually as a starter you have a few innings to establish your pitches but coming out of the 'pen you need to have everything working so you get ahead with your fastball and then show your off-speed [pitches]."
(on the dangerous Durham lineup and how many of their players can tie the game with one swing in a tight contest like today's)
"You know you've always gotta be aware of their power, especially with a guy on first being the tying run on base. You've just got to throw your best stuff."