Published Date Written by Lloyd JonesINDIANAPOLIS — Making his third start of the young season, Jeff Locke turned in his best start to date for the Indianapolis Indians as he picked up the win in a 4-3 Tribe victory over the visiting Columbus Clippers (Cleveland Indians affiliate) Wednesday afternoon.
It was just Locke's eighth start in the Triple A International League. The son of Pam and Alan Locke, of Redstone, made five August outings for Indianapolis late last August and was so impressive he earned his first call-up to the Major League Pittsburgh Pirates in September.
Wednesday, Locke improved to 1-1 on the season, pitching six innings while allowing seven hits, one run (one earned run), walking one and striking out a season-best eight.
According to the Indians' website, Locke, 24, "kept spectators on the edge of their seats giving up seven hits over six innings on Wednesday afternoon but struck out eight and repeatedly pitched out of jams on his way to victory. Locke pitched into and out of trouble often in the early innings, including the first. After CF Ezequiel Carrera drew a walk to lead off the ballgame, 2B Cord Phelps launched a double to right field and put runners on second a third with none out, but Locke induced a fly out to shallow left and picked up two strikeouts to strand Carrera and Phelps.
"Locke lived dangerously in every inning of his outing, allowing at least one base runner in each. Only in the top of the fifth did a Clippers base runner not reach scoring position., but Locke allowed only one run, in the top of the sixth, when 1B Matt LaPorta doubled to lead off the frame and came across the plate on a two-out single to the hole at third base by DH Ryan Spilborghs."
Locke left the game in the top of the seventh in front 4-1 and the Tribe held on for the victory. The Indians improved to 6-7 on the season while Columbus fell to 8-6.
Thus far this season, Locke has an earned run average of 4.88 (15 IP, 23 H, 8 R, 8 ER, 1 BB, 15 K).
Locke appears on the cover of the Town of Conway's annual town report this spring with three color photos. There's a picture of Locke throwing as a toddler in Cooperstown, N.Y.; a shot of him pitching for Kennett High; and the largest photo of Locke on the mound for the Pittsburgh Pirates from last fall.
It's the second year in row that a hometown athlete has graced the cover of the town report. Last year, Leanne Smith, a member of the U.S. Ski Team who competed at the 2010 Winter Olympics, was featured racing in her USA colors.
Locke, the lone two-time New Hampshire Player of the Year, was called up Sept. 6 from Indianapolis, where he had a 2.22 ERA in five starts. He opened the 2011 season in Double-A Altoona, where he was 7-8 with a 4.03 ERA while being eighth in the Eastern League in strikeouts.
Although 0-3 in four starts with the Pirates, Locke impressed teammates and the coaching staff with his composure, competitiveness and willingness to pitch inside to challenge hitters.
If Locke remains with Indianapolis this season, his closest homecoming will be June 5-8 when the Indians travel to Pawtucket, R.I. to play the Pawtucket Red Sox (Boston Red Sox affiliate).