By the top of the 6th, the Tribe was ahead 5-0, but Crotta was getting tired. �He began the 6th by giving up back-to-back singles to SS Brian Bocock and relief pitcher Brian Gordon. �A passed ball got away from C Luke Carlin, and both runners moved up one base. �Rich Thompson slipped a single into right field, scoring both Bocock and Gordon. �Thompson (as expected) stole second base, and moved to third on a ground out by Maza. �Another ground out allowed Thompson to score, and the third grounder in a row ended the inning. �Crotta and the Indians still had the lead, 5-3.
Crotta came out to the mound one more time, in the 7th. �He gave up a lead-off single to RF Cody Ransom, a smash to center field that might have been a double if not for the way Jose Tabata neatly played the bounce off the wall. �Another timely double play erased Ransom: �SS Doug Bernier scooped the grounder, stepped on second base himself, and fired over to Walker at first. �A strikeout by Pigs’ C Dane Sardinha ended the inning and Crotta’s afternoon. �Crotta’s 7 innings matched his longest outing (out of 4) with Altoona. �He threw 82 pitches for 58 strikes, and allowed 3 runs (2 earned) on 6 hits and a walk, with 4 strikeouts. �A very nice AAA debut.
Steven Jackson replaced Crotta on the mound to begin the 8th inning. �He got two groundouts, then gave up another single to Rich Thompson, who (no surprise) stole second base. �Thompson scored on a line drive to center field by Maza, when the throw in from Tabata in center field did not hit the cut-off man but instead sailed over the cut-off, over C Luke Carlin’s head, and all the way to the backstop. �Carlin chased it down, but Thompson is too fast, and he scored easily. �After a walk to Mayberry, Jackson was relieved by Wil Ledezma (photo), who got a strikeout to end the inning. �Ledezma also retired the side in order in the 9th, securing the win for Crotta and picking up his own third save.
The Indians did not score again, despite a double lined into center field by Tabata in the 7th inning, and a single by Luke Carlin in the 8th. �Carlin was caught trying to steal second base. �Argenis Diaz singled to begin the 9th inning, and moved to second base on Ledezma’s bunt, but he was left stranded there.
The win moves the Indians back to the .500 mark (12-12). �They remain in third place in the Western division of the International League, 3.5 games behind first-place Columbus, and just half a game behind second-place Toledo, whose record is 13-12.
Indians’ Hitting Gem of the Game: �a triple and a home run for Neil Walker (photo), whose hitting doesn’t seem to be affected by where on the field he happens to be playing. �Walker is now hitting .341, with 4 homers and 19 RBI. �He has a huge split: �he’s hitting .426 against right-handed hitters, but .087 against lefties. �The .341 average is 10th in the International League, and the 19 RBI matches Pedro Alvarez’s RBI total. �The two are tied for 7th in the IL in RBI.
Indians’ Defensive Gem of the Game: �#1 — In the bottom of the 5th, Iron Pigs’ Neil Sellers smacked a sharp grounder to third base, where Pedro Alvarez made a nice scoop of the ball, kind of deep on the infield dirt, then made a long throw to Neil Walker at first base, just in time to get the out on Sellers. �#2 — Two timely double plays, both started by SS Doug Bernier, to bail out the newest team member, Mike Crotta, making his first AAA start.
Reliever Mike Dubee was sent back to AA Altoona after last night’s game. �That opened up the roster spot for today’s starter Mike Crotta.
Argenis Diaz entered the game in the bottom of the 2nd inning, replacing Brian Friday. �Friday had been the pivot man on the double play in the bottom of the 1st, and he batted (popped out) in the top of the 2nd, both without obvious problems. �So it was not clear why he was removed from the game, though radio broadcasters Howard Kellman and Scott McCauley were speculating that Friday might have been having back issues. �Diaz had been out of the lineup for a few days, and the radio guys suggested that it might have been related to the fact that manager Frank Kremblas doesn’t like it when players don’t run out grounders and pop-ups the way they ought to. �(UPDATE: �Seems that Friday was having issues with not running out grounders too. )
Jose Tabata leads the International League with his 12 stolen bases. �Former Pirate farmhand Brent Lillibridge, now with the Charlotte Knights (White Sox) is tied for second with 11 steals.
Pedro Alvarez went 0-for-4, with the grounder RBI and two strikeouts.
“Where’s Walker?” �– in our version of the “Where’s Waldo” game, we find Walker playing first base for the third time this season. �Walker has also played one game at third base, one game as the Designated Hitter, 11 games in left field, and 7 games at second base.
(photos by Nancy)