Charlie Morton dazzled the Columbus Clippers for 7 innings, but a 9th-inning rally gave the Clippers the walk-off win. Morton pitched 7.2 innings and struck out 8 batters. His sinker was working well for him, and he showed good control, walking only one batter. He gave up just one run on 6 hits, though the late rally robbed him of the win.
Morton started his night’s work in an enviable position, with two runs already in his back pocket. CF Starling Marte ripped the second pitch over the game on a rising line drive over the center field wall. SS Brian Friday followed with a line drive single to center field, and when Columbus starter Chris Seddon made a wild throw on a pickoff attempt, Friday dashed around to third base. DH Jeff Clement drove in Friday with another ball into center field for an RBI double.
With that 2-0 lead, Morton began the bottom of the frame with a strikeout, then gave up singles to 2B Cord Phelps and LF Matt LaPorta. A line out to center field gave Morton the second out. Morton got out of the jam with a tapper back to the mound for the third out. Morton got into some trouble in the 2nd inning also. RF Ryan Spilborghs led off with a grounder over toward first base. Tribe 1B Miles Durham made the scoop, but Morton was a little slow in moving to cover the plate, and Durham and Morton collided, leaving Spilborghs safe at first. Spilborghs advanced to second base on a ground out. A double into the gap by C Matt Pagnozzi allowed Spilborghs to score from second. Morton settled down after that run scored. He ended the inning with a strikeout and a ground out, leaving Pagnozzi stranded at second.
RF Brandon Boggs gave Morton and the Indians an additional run in the top of the 3rd with his second home run of the new season. It was a blast down the left field line, with no doubt about its distance — only whether or not it would stay fair. Luckily for Boggs, the ball stayed just inside the foul pole, to give the Indians a 3-1 lead.
Morton sailed through the next 5 innings holding on to that 3-1 lead. He retired 10 batters in order, until he allowed a bunt single in the 5th. That runner was left on base. He walked one batter in the 6th, but a quick double play erased that runner. The Clippers went down in order in the 7th inning as well.
Tribe batters were also quiet in the middle innings. Friday walked in the 5th, but was thrown out trying to steal second base. Marte singled with two outs in the 7th, and he successfully stole second base, but got no further.
Morton began the 8th inning with two outs, including his 8th strikeout. Then Phelps rapped a double off the top of the wall in left-center. That was the end of Morton’s rehab start. He had thrown 98 pitches (the management had been hoping for him to throw “around 100″ pitches).
Bryan Morris came on to take over for Morton. It took him 5 pitches to strike out LaPorta, ending the inning and the threat. Jo-Jo Reyes took the mound for the Tribe to begin the bottom of the 9th, and quickly got into trouble. He gave up a walk to 1B Russ Canzler, who was subsequently forced out at second base when 3B Lonnie Chisenhall grounded to short. Reyes walked Spilborghs to put two Clippers on base. When the Clippers brought in former Pirate Andy LaRoche (right-handed) to pinch-hit, Tribe manager Dean Treanor countered by switching the lefty Reyes for the righty reliever Tim Wood. But Wood walked LaRoche to load the bases. Pinch-hitter Trevor Crowe grounded to second base, where 2B Friday tossed to SS Jordy Mercer, forcing out LaRoche. They could not turn the double play, though, as Crowe beat the relay throw to first. That allowed the lead runner Chisenhall to score, pushing the Clippers to within one run, 3-2. Next up was the 9-hole hitter SS Gregorio Petit. Petit lifted a long double down the left field line. Spilborghs scored easily from third to tie, and Crowe raced around from first base to score the winning run.
Though the walk-off win spoiled Morton’s rehab start, and left Wood charged with both a Blown Save and the Loss, the Tribe batters had their third solid game in a row. Starling Marte and Eric Fryer had two hits each — single and homer for Marte, and single and double for Fryer. Jeff Clement also doubled.
Indians’ Hitting Gem of the Game: Starling Marte opening the game with his first AAA home run — a no-doubt-about-it bomb.
Indians’ Defensive Gem of the Game: A tight double play in the 6th inning: Lonnie Chisenhall grounded to 2B Brian Friday, who made the quick step on second base to force out Russ Canzler, then the throw on to first for the double play.
Chase d’Arnaud, who was hit in the head by a pitch on Saturday, is feeling better today, though it might still be a few days before he is back in the lineup.
Jake Fox, who has been on the DL with an oblique strain, is still working toward being ready get back to action.