Louisville, Ky- The Bats took on the Columbus Clippers in game two of the four-game series at Louisville Slugger FIeld tonight. Southpaw Tom Cochran took the mound in his first Triple-A debut as Louisville looked to inch closer to back-to-back IL West Division Title. Juan Francisco, Chris Heisey and Chris Valaika led an offensive outburst for the Bats, as they defeated the Indians 10-4 In front of 9,569 fans. However, the IL West Division will have to wait until tomorrow as Toledo escaped with a 7-6 win over Indy.
Michael Brantley walked to lead off the game as Cochran struggled to find the strike zone in his first Triple-A start. Brantley then stole second and advanced to third on a throwing error by catcher Korey Fiener. Jordan Brown then grounded out, scoring Brantley and giving the Clippers an early 1-0 lead.
The Bats bounced back quickly and had a big bottom half of the inning. With one out Chris Heisey delivered a line-drive shot to left that cleared the wall and evened the score at 1-1. Then Louisville took the lead when Todd Frazier singled to center and was sent home by a Juan Francisco double to center field. Chris Valaika produced the last run of the inning with a single to center field, scoring Francisco and making the score 3-1.
Louisville added another run in the top of the second. After Feiner singled to lead off the inning, Bolivar grounded into a fielder's choice and then stole second. Heisey then blasted one off the wall into center field, scoring Bolivar and giving the Bats a comforatble lead at 4-1.
Cochran continued to struggle with his control and allowed the Clippes to get back into the game in the fourth. He walked Stephen Head and Damaso Espino and then Jesus Merchan singled to load the bases.
After a Niuman Romero sacrifice fly scored Head, Brantley followed with a double to score Espino and make the score 4-3.
The Bats added two more in the fifth. Juan Francisco started the fifth with a opposite field shot to left field. Wes Bankston and Valaika followed with singles to put runners on the corners. Then Lew Ford connected on his first hit as a Bat, a single to third scoring Bankston, giving the Bats a 6-3 lead.
Francisco did it again in the sixth. He pounded the ball out of the park for his second home run of the night. This is Francisco's fourth multi-homerun game this season and his second with the Bats.
The Bats added a run apiece in the sixth and the seventh and two more in the ninth as they cruised to a 10-victory.
Federico Baez (1-1, 4.60) entered in the top of the fourth and picked up his first win for the Bats. He went two-and-one-third innings, giving up three hits, walking one and striking out three.
In his debut with the Bats, Cochran struggled. He could only get through three-and-a-third innings, while allowing four hits, three earned runs, five walks and two strikeouts. He threw 84 pitches.
Hector Rondon (4-3, 3.47) took the loss for the Clippers giving up twelve hits, seven runs, while walking one and striking out four, in six innings of work.
Valaika had a four-hit game for the Bats as he finished 4-for-5 with a double and an RBI, raising his average to .233. Heisey and Francisco finished with three hits each. Heisey went 3-for-4 with two doubles, two runs scored and three RBI while Francisco connected on two home runs and a double. He scored three runs and had three RBI. The home runs were the fourth and fifth for Francisco as a Bat and his 26th and 27th overall this season, which is a career-high.
The Bats look to clinch the IL West Division Crown tomorrow night at 6:15p.m. A Bats' win or a Toledo loss will do the trick for Louisville tomorrow. The probable pitcher for the Bats is LHP Travis Wood (4-1, 2.87) and LHP Chuck Lofgen (5-9, 5.50) will
take the mound for the Clippers.