(Photo: Dusty Brown)
The 5th inning began with Owens’ 8th strikeout, catching SS Cale Iorg looking. But things went downhill from there, as the next five Toledo batters reached base safely. C Max St. Pierre singled into left field, and Rhymes slipped a grounder between Wimberly and Hague, into right field. A walk to Worth loaded the bases with one out. Guillen grounded a double just inside third base and into the Tribe bullpen, scoring both St. Pierre and Rhymes. Strieby was intentionally walked to load the bases again, then Owens was relieved by Justin Thomas. Thomas needed only one run to get out of the bases-loaded jam. He got Salazar to line his first pitch right to 3B Andy Marte, who quickly fired over to first base, doubling off Strieby, who like most everyone else in the park, thought that ball was going into left field.
The Indians had tied the score at 1-1 for a couple of innings. They had put one base runner on both the 1st and 2nd innings. Wimberly worked a walk to begin the 1st, but he was forced out at second base on a grounder to third by SS Jordy Mercer. Wimberly slid in to second hard (but clean), and disrupted 2B Guillen enough so that there was no throw to first base. Dusty Brown doubled off the wall in right-center field in the 2nd inning, but two ground outs left him on base.
CF Gorkys Hernandez led off the bottom of the 3rd by coaxing a walk from Toledo starter Duane Below. Wimberly tried to drop down a sacrifice bunt, but he was called out when the ball hit him as he left the batter’s box. Manager Dean Treanor asked for an explanation from plate umpire Chad Whitson (photo), and looked angry, but nothing more came of it. With Hernandez back on first base, Mercer rifled a line drive into left field, and Hernandez raced around to third. LF John Bowker grounded to first, with Toledo 1B Thorman charging onto the infield grass to make the scoop. Thorman threw to SS Iorg for the force out on Mercer, and Iorg relayed back to first, where the pitcher Below was covering for the inning-ending double play. But Below’s foot was pulled off the bag, and Bowker was ruled safe, which meant that Hernandez was safe as he crossed the plate. That tied the score at 1-1.
The tie lasted through the 4th inning, when the Indians went down in order. The Mud Hens took a 3-1 lead in the top of the 5th, and the Tribe threatened in the bottom of the inning. Hernandez led off with a double off the right-center field wall. He stole third base, and with two outs, Below walked both Mercer and Bowker to load the bases. That brought up rehabbing Pedro Alvarez, who had DH duties tonight. Alvarez grounded to first to end the inning, leaving all three runners on base.
The Mud Hens scored again in the 6th inning. With Justin Thomas still on the mound and one out, Guez lifted a long fly ball to the warning track at the 418′ mark deep in the left-center alley. The ball bounced on the track and up and over the wall for a ground-rule double. Iorg followed with a line drive back up the middle for an RBI single, as Guez came around and scored from second base. The throw in from center field was wide, and Guez was easily across the plate, with a 4-1 lead.
Jared Hughes pitched a scoreless 7th inning, with some help from Wimberly. Worth led off with a single into center field. Guillen grounded to third for what might have been a double play, but 3B Marte bobbled the ball for a second after making the catch, and when he got it into his hands properly, the only play he could make was the out at first. Worth moved from second to third base on a wild pitch. Hughes struck out Strieby for the second out. Then Salazar rapped a sharp grounder that zipped past Hague at first and seemed destined for right field. But, Corey Wimberly ranged far to his left and appeared almost out of nowhere behind first base. He made a diving stop, then hopped up and fired to Hague in time to make the third out on Salazar at first, ending the inning without Worth scoring.
Donnie Veal began the 8th inning on the mound for the Tribe. Veal had trouble finding the strike zone — 11 of his 27 pitches were balls. He walked Thorman to start the inning, then got a pop out on a 3-1 pitch to Guez. Iorg grounded to first, where Hague fielded the ball and threw to Mercer covering second base, forcing out Thorman. But Mercer had trouble holding on to the ball as Thorman slid in, so was not able to turn the double play. Veal walked St. Pierre on 4 straight balls. With two runners on, Rhymes worked the count full, then singled into center field, driving in Iorg for a 5-1 lead. Veal was relieved by Steven Jackson, who walked Worth to load the bases. Jackson ended the inning by striking out Clete Thomas, who had come in when Guillen came out of the game.
Jose Ascanio pitched the top of the 9th for the Indians. He struck out Strieby and Salazar, then got Thorman to ground out to end the inning.
The Tribe had only 3 base runners over the last 3 innings of the game. Hernandez tripled into the left-center gap, right to the 418′ mark in the 7th, reaching third base standing up. A strikeout and a ground out left him there when the inning ended. Alvarez and Brown both walked in the 8th inning, and they too were left on base. The Indians went down in order in their final chance in the bottom of the 9th.
The loss brings the Indians back to the .500 mark, and it also gives the Indians a loss in the 5-game series, 3 games to 2. This is the first series the Tribe has lost since the end of April. They will travel to Louisville tomorrow, to begin a 4-game home-and-away series with the Bats, wrapping up the pre-All-Star play.
Indians’ Hitting Gem of the Game: Gorkys Hernandez reached base 3 times in 4 trips to the plate. He walked in the 1st inning (photo), then doubled and tripled. He scored the Indians’ only run, after the walk.
Indians’ Defensive Gems of the Game: With the bases loaded in the top of the 5th and two runs already in, 3B Andy Marte caught a line drive off the bat of Jeff Salazar, then doubled Ryan Strieby off first base to end the inning. If the ball had gotten past Marte, at least one and maybe two more runs would have scored. In the 7th, Corey Wimberly saved a run from scoring by going well to his left to make a diving stop of a grounder behind first base, then throw out Salazar to end the inning.
Brian Friday, who injured his knee in a collision at the plate two days ago, has been determined to have some ligament damage in the back part of his knee. No word yet as to whether he’s going to need surgery to fix it.
Pitcher Blaine Boyer, who was released by the Indians/Pirates a few weeks ago, has signed a minor league contract with the St. Louis Cardinals.
(photos by Nancy)