IMG_3349The Indians and the Braves had both began the game fairly quietly.

Tribe starter Donnie Veal (photo) looked good over the first three innings. �he retired the Braves in order in the 1st, and struck out three Braves batters around a triple by 2B Joe Thurston in the 2nd. �He walked C Clint Sammons to begin the 3rd, then erased him with a double play when the Braves’ starter Jose Ortegano dropped down a bunt.

Tribe batters were able to put a runner on base in each of the first three innings, but couldn’t push anyone around to score. �Doug Bernier led off the bottom of the 1st with a walk, and went to second when LF Neil Walker dropped down a bunt and beat out the throw to first base. �But CF Jose Tabata bounced into a double play, and Erik Kratz, on first base today, struck out to end the inning.

In the 2nd, Brian Friday picked up an infield single, when he grounded sharply to his Braves’ counterpart at second, Joe Thurston. �Thurston kept the ball from going into the outfield, but bobbled it and had no throw. Moments later, though, Friday was picked off first base and caught stealing. �Bernier walked again in the 3rd inning, but was left on base.

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(Photo: �Erik Kratz was playing first base for the second time, but first full game, this season.)

After those first 3 innings, Veal’s control started wavering. �He threw many more balls than he had in the first three innings, and went deep into counts on many more batters (he went deep on only two batters in the first three innings). �Wes Timmons led off the 4th with a ground ball past the diving Kratz and into right field for a single. �Canizares lined a double to the warning track at the 418-foot mark, the deepest spot in Victory Field, scoring Timmons. �After a fly out, a walk and a fielder’s choice put runners on the corners, Veal ended the inning himself on a sharp come-backer to the mound. �Veal got his glove in front of it to knock it down, then couldn’t find the ball for a moment — kept his cool and located the ball on the ground behind him, scooped it up and fired to first, all in time to get the runner, LF Luis Bolivar.

The Indians bounced back to tie the score in the bottom of the 4th. �Jose Tabata reached base on a throwing error. �SS Brandon Hicks made a good scoop on a grounder, but �his throw to first base was wide tot he infield side of the bag, and when 1B Canizares tried to make a swipe tag as Tabata raced past, he missed entirely. �Erik Kratz looped a single into center field, moving Tabata to second base. �RF Brandon Jones moved both runners up one base with a sacrifice bunt, and Luke Carlin was hit by a pitch to load the bases. �Brian Friday brought in Tabata with a sacrifice fly, and the score was tied.

IMG_3362Veal began the 5th inning with a fly out, then threw three straight balls to opposing pitcher Ortegano. �Luckily, the three balls were followed by three called strikes, to retire Ortegano. �But then Veal’s control slipped again. �Grego Blanco worked a full count and fouled off two more pitches, then walked. �Wes Timmons walked on four straight pitches. �Then Canizares smacked his second double of the game to right-center, where Jose Tabata came running across and made a dive — but missed the ball. �Both Blanco and Timmons scored, and the Braves had a 3-1 lead.

Steven Jackson (photo) took over for Veal to begin the 6th inning and pitched two scoreless innings. �He �began the 6th with two outs, then gave up a dobule and an intentional walk before retiring Ortegano on a grounder. �Jackson gave up a single to Gregor Blanco to open the 7th, but when Blanco tried to reach third base on Wes Timmon’s grounder to third, he ran himself into a 5-3-5 double play, tagged out at third base. �Wil Ledezma gave up a single to Brandon Hicks in the 8th, but picked Hicks off first base and threw him out as he tried to get to second base.

IMG_3369The Indians got one run closer to the Braves in the 6th inning, when Erik Kratz homered off the top of the wall down the left field line. �They tied the game for the second time in the 7th. �Brian Friday led off with a looper single into left field, and Argenis Diaz bunted him over to second base. �A balk by reliever Michael Dunn advanced Friday to third base. �Pinch-hitter Brian Myrow worked a walk, to put runners on the corners. �Doug Bernier brought Friday in with a sacrifice fly. �The throw in from deep right field came in up the third base line, and Friday slid in to the plate amid a cloud of dust (photo). �Tie score, 3-3.

The tie lasted until the top of the 9th, when things fell apart on Wil Ledezma and Jean Machi. �The loss returns the Indians to the .500 mark, with a 22-22 record. �They remain in 3rd place in the International League Western Division, 4.5 games behind the first place Columbus Clippers, and 3 games behind the second-place Toledo Mud Hens.

IMG_3364Indians’ Hitting Gem of the Game: �Erik Kratz’s solo home run in the 6th inning. �This was the opposite of a no-doubter — it was a no-way-er. �The ball got high into the air, and it never looked like it was going to do anything more than fall in near the warning track. �Nope, not a chance it was going to leave the park. �But the ball hung up, and LR Luis Bolivar kept running and running toward the left field corner. �The ball hit the top of the wall in the small section between the foul line and the beginning of the scoreboard, and bounced over the wall. �It was Kratz’s 5th home run of the season. �(photo)

Indians’ Defensive Gems of the Game: �The whole infield was hustling, particularly when two of them — Doug Bernier at third and Erik Kratz at first — were playing positions they don’t often play. �They turned an unexpected double play in the 3rd. �With Clint Simmons on base due to a walk, pitcher Jose Ortegano dropped down a neat little bunt. �But Bernier was anticipating, and when that bunt went down, Bernier was standing right there to pick it up. �He turned and fired to second base, and Brian Friday relayed on to Erik Kratz at first for a double play. �The 3rd inning ended on a running catch in foul territory behind third base by SS Argenis Diaz. �In the 7th, with Gregor Blanco on first after a single, Wes Timmons grounded to third base near the bag. �Blanco was off and running with the pitch, so when Bernier made the scoop and looked up, he clearly did not have time to throw to second base to get Blanco. �Instead, Bernier went to first base, thinking he’d at least get one out. �But Blanco did not stop when he got to second, and as the throw from Bernier reached first base, Erik Kratz saw Blanco going. �Kratz took the throw for the out at first, then alertly fired across the diamond to third base, where Bernier tagged out Blanco as he slid in — double play.

Photos: �Left — Doug Bernier at third base; � � Right — Neil Walker warms up in right field. �IMG_3348

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Two plays by SS Argenis Diaz: � Left — Diaz dove for a ball grounded up the middle in the 1st, then hopped up for the throw to first base, while Brian Friday just tried to stay out of the way; � Right — tagging out Brandon Hicks after he was picked off first and tried to steal in the 8th.

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Ryan Lewis got to warm up the pitcher between innings for the second day in a row:

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That’s what friends are for:

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NOTES:

Neil Walker’s right index finger is doing better today, though it was still taped. �He made a couple of hard throws in from left field and did ok.

The give-away at today’s game was a “jersey replica” Pedro Alvarez t-shirt — black with “Indians” and “23” on the front, and “Alvarez” and “23” on the back, like the players’ jerseys. �Radio broadcaster Scott McCauley reported that the Indians’ players all got one of the t-shirts too, waiting for them at their lockers when they arrived at the stadium today. �So, during practice, there were quite a lot of guys named “Alvarez” on the field �– and the one whose name really is Alvarez wasn’t wearing his replica jersey. �Kind of ironic that he didn’t even get to start on the day all the kids in the stadium were wearing his t-shirt.

Best other t-shirt seen at the Vic this weekend: �”I’d play deep if I were you”.

Go Tribe!

(photos by Nancy)

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