Roles were reversed as two of the International League’s divisional leaders clashed Tuesday at Victory Field in Indianapolis. The home standing Indians battered Buffalo pitching for a season-high 15 hits en route to a 10-4 thumping of the Bisons in the opening game of the teams’ four-game matchup.
Coming into the series, Indianapolis led the league in several pitching categories, including earned run average. Meanwhile, Buffalo was tops in the IL in multiple offensive statistics entering the contest.
The Tribe hammered former major league veteran Miguel Batista for five runs in the first inning, then followed up with a four run fourth to blow the game open on a balmy, sun-splashed evening. Bautista (1-2) took the loss, giving up 10 hits and six runs over just three innings of work.
Indianapolis catcher Tony Sanchez keyed the offensive explosion with a two-run homer as part of the Tribe’s crooked number first. Sanchez continued his torrid pace since rejoining the Indians. He added a run-scoring single and a double, the fifth consecutive game in which he stroked a two-bagger. Sanchez said the breezy conditions may have aided him. “I got a little help from the wind on the home run.” He added the time spent with the parent club Pittsburgh was helpful. “I learned a lot in terms of preparation and it was good to see the nuances that you usually don’t get to see during the game.”
The entire Indians lineup had their hitting shoes on, as CF Felix Pie contributed two hits and knocked in a pair of runs, while 3B Jared Goedert and SS Josh Harrison also had two RBI nights.
Indianapolis’ offense was backed up by a solid, if unspectacular outing from prized prospect Gerrit Cole. Cole picked up his third win in four decisions despite giving up three home runs. His battery mate Sanchez still thought it was a quality start. “Two of the three homers he gave up were off-speed pitches. He battled and got stronger as the game wore on. He’s still learning, but he faced a quality line-up over there (Buffalo) tonight.” Cole’s line showed six innings of five hit, four run ball with five strikeouts, including fanning the side in his last inning of work.
The two teams play a pair of afternoon matinees before wrapping up the series and the Tribe’s homestand, with a game Friday night. Indianapolis improves to 28-12 overall, atop the IL West, while the Bison fall to 23-14, still good for first in the IL North.
Smoke Signals: On a busy sports night in downtown Indianapolis, the Goodyear blimp hovered overhead as the Indiana Pacers and New York Knicks were playing nearby in the NBA playoffs….Victory Field attendance was announced as 5,830….Tribe LF Brent Carroll made the highlight play of the night when he snagged a fly ball in foul territory in the Buffalo ninth up against the fence, then fired a strike to C Sanchez to throw out a Bisons baserunner at the plate.