AZL Indians roll Reds, 11-3
Offense scores seven in third to extend win streak to four
GOODYEAR – The AZL Indians extended their win streak to four games on Friday night, cruising by their complex rival AZL Reds by a count of 11-3. The offense propelled the AZL Indians, as Tribe hitters pounded out 13 hits and managed to put together a seven run, two out rally in the third to push the game out of reach early.
Juan Santana took the mound for the AZL Indians and despite not having his best stuff, gave his team quality innings. He went out and competed on each pitch and the rest of the Tribe certainly fed off of his performance. AZL Reds’ leadoff hitter Kevin Garcia got to Santana just as the game began, sending an early fastball over the left field fence in the top of the first inning and giving the AZL Reds a 1-0 lead.
The AZL Indians responded with a run in the bottom of the second inning. After singles by Francisco Mejia and Gerald Bautista, shortstop Ivan Castillo grounded into a fielder’s choice, which set up the AZL Indians with runners at second and third and only one out. Then, with Felix Lora at the plate, Castillo took off from first and stole second base. AZL Reds catcher, J.R. Reynolds, attempted a late throw to second and as soon as he released it, Mejia came darting home, sliding in easily thanks to a slight bobble from the AZL Reds’ shortstop.
However, the tie was short lived. With two outs in the top of the third, Santana relinquished another home run, this time to Cory Thompson. Thompson turned on a high inside fastball and shot a no doubter to left field. Santana maintained his composure and finished the inning, even though his frustration at allowing a second homer was visible as he walked back to the dugout.
The AZL Indians picked up their disappointed pitcher in the bottom of the inning, as they exploded for seven runs all with two outs. Joel Mejia and Yonathan Mendoza both reached early in the inning on a double and walk, respectively. However, AZL Reds’ starter Juan Martinez looked to be limiting the damage when D’vone McClure flew out to center field for the second out and still no runs scored.
The AZL Indians, looking to manufacture at least one run in the inning, stayed aggressive on the base paths. Much like in the previous inning, Mendoza attempted to steal second base, which forced the AZL Reds into another bad play, as Reynolds’ throw went wide of second base and allowed Mejia, who had advanced to third on the McClure fly out, to score.
The AZL Indians then proceeded to capitalize on this mistake and turn it into a big inning. After watching his brother score from third, Francisco Mejia sent a pitch over the right fielder’s head and coasted into second base for a stand up RBI double, scoring Mendoza from second. Bautista was then hit by a pitch in his at bat and Castillo followed with a sharp single to right past a diving second baseman, plating the second Mejia for a second run in the inning.
The AZL Reds tried to stop the bleeding by bring on reliever Bernardo Moreta, but it was no use. Frank Lora crushed one of the first pitchers he saw from Moreta to left center field. Despite being one of the deepest parts of the park, Lora watched his ball sail way over the fence for a three run homer. Silento Sayles then capped off the rally after a Garrett Smith walk with a double down the left field line, which managed to score Smith all the way from first base. The seven run rally gave the AZL Indians an 8-2 lead and they never looked back.
Santana would go on to yield only one more run in the top of the fourth inning on a triple by Jose Fernandez and an RBI groundout by Oviel Florentino. He never let the AZL Reds string any sort of rally together and finished the evening giving up 3 runs (all earned) on six hits with four strikeouts and only one walk. Overall, it was exactly an outing any manager would ask for with the exception of the two home runs given up.
The AZL Indians extended their lead in the fourth and fifth innings, scoring two in the fourth and one in the fifth. In the fourth, McClure and Mejia would score on a Bautista double and a Castillo groundout, respectively and in the fifth, Sayles would come around on a single by Mendoza. This would stretch their lead to 11-3 and this was more than enough for the AZL Indians to hold on to.
In fact, the game seemingly felt over after the fifth inning with the AZL Indians staked to a huge eight run lead. It appeared as though both teams knew the margin would be too much to overcome, as the AZL Indians coasted through the last three and a half innings and the AZL Reds rolled over and displayed little life after this point.
AZL Indians relievers Anderson Polanco and Jose Zapata certainly gave them nothing to rally around. They combined to hold the AZL Reds hitless over the final four innings (two innings apiece) and struck out seven against only two walks. It was the second consecutive night that Tribe relievers did not allow a run.
Offensively, every AZL Indians starter managed to reach base and score a run and four AZL Indians collected multiple hits. The four- and five-hole hitters, Francisco Mejia and Bautista, led the offensive onslaught. Mejia finished 2-4 with a double, an RBI, and three runs scored, while Bautista went 3-3 with a double, a walk, an RBI, and one run scored.
It was great to see the Tribe put together a complete game and dominate in every facet of play.
The AZL Indians will try to keep rolling and push their win streak to five games on Saturday at 7 p.m. against these same AZL Reds in Goodyear.