Indians’ 9th-Inning Rally Falls Short

IMG_3378Mike Crotta (photo)�made the start for the Indians, and for the second start in a row, he had trouble keeping his pitches down, and that got him into trouble. �Crotta pitched 5 innings, and had at least one runner on base in each of those innings.

Braves’ CF Jordan Schafer, drove a triple to the deepest part of Victory Field to begin the top of the 1st. �He held at third base when 3B Wes Timmons grounded to third base. �Schafer made a mistake when Freddie Freeman tapped back to the mound — he broke for the plate with the pitch, and when the ball ended up in Crotta’s hand again just a split second later, Schafer was hung up in the middle of the basepath. �The run-down went Crotta to C Erik Kratz to 3B Pedro Alvarez to Kratz to 2B Neil Walker, who had come over to help out (1-2-5-3-4). �(Photo at the top.) �Schafer was tagged for the second out, but he did delay things long enough for Freeman to reach second base. �Crotta struck out RF Mitch Jones to end the inning and escape the threat.

Crotta worked around a lead-off infield hit by LF Matt Young in the 2nd inning to keep the Braves scoreless. �But the Braves got to him in the 3rd.

IMG_3386Braves’ pitcher Tim Gustafson, who had been 0-for-2 in his previous at-bats this season, led off the 3rd inning with a long fly ball that missed being a home run by inches. �The ball bounced off the top of the scoreboard in left field, hit the short fence above the scoreboard, and bounced back onto the narrow top edge of the scoreboard, rolling along that edge for a ground rule double. �Crotta walked Jordan Schafer, then got two fly ball outs. �Then Mitch Jones drove a rising line drive toward the left field foul pole. �The ball left the park on the fair side of the pole, then curved foul beyond the pole — a 3-run homer, to give Gwinnett a 3-2 lead. �C Erik Kratz and manager Frank Kremblas both questioned the home run call, but the questioning was brief and the umpires upheld the home run call (it looked fair to me too, and others sitting around me agreed).

(Photo: �Erik Kratz and Mike Crotta confer, with Neil Walker behind them.)

Crotta gave up two more hits in the 4th inning, but left the base runners stranded. �Gwinnett collected two more runs in the 5th. �Wes Timmons led off with a walk, and he moved to second on a grounder to first base by Freddie Freeman. �Crotta got a strikeout, but then gave up three consecutive hits. �Matt Young drove a ball down the left field line, and reached second base as the ball was rattling around in the left field corner, as Timmons scored. �2B Joe Thurston singled into short center field, plating Young. �Brandon Hicks also singled on a grounder into left field, though he and Thurston were left on base when C Clint Sammons struck out to end the inning.

IMG_3384The Braves added one more insurance run, which would turn out to be the winning run in the 6th, off reliever Justin Thomas. Pitcher Tim Gustafson again led off the inning, and this time, his long ball to left field did not fall short. �He homered well over the scoreboard to give the Braves a 6-2 lead.

The Indians also had at least one runner on base in every inning except the 5th, but they did not do a good job of pushing the runs across the plate. �They left 9 runners on base, and went 1-for-12 with runners in scoring position. �CF Brandon Moss (photo) and LF Kevin Melillo both walked to begin the 2nd inning, but an unusual double play halted the threat. �SS Argenis Diaz tapped back to the mound, where Tim Gustafson whirled and fired to third base, forcing out Moss, and 3B Wes Timmons fired the relay over to first base to make the second out on Diaz. �Mike Crotta struck out to end the inning.

Jose Tabata doubled to lead off the 3rd, but he was thrown out trying to steal third base. �Neil Walker also walked in that inning, but was left on base. �Kevin Melillo also doubled and was left on base, and both Erik Kratz and Brian Myrow were stranded after singles.

IMG_3385Myrow started a rally in the 6th inning, when the Indians scored again. �A wild pitch advanced Myrow to second base and put him into scoring position for Pedro Alvarez. �Alvarez drove a liner into the right field corner for a double, and Myrow came around to score from second base. �A walk to Kratz (photo) put runners on first and second, and sent Gustafson to the showers.

Mariano Gomez came on in relief, and began with a sacrifice bunt by Brandon Moss, then a walk to Kevin Melillo, to fill the bases with Indians. �Gomez got Argenis Diaz to bound to shortstop for the fielder’s choice that forced Alvarez out at the plate. �Pinch-hitter Brian Friday also grounded to short, forcing out Diaz to end the inning.

Jose Tabata went 3-for-5, with a double in the game. �Pedro Alvarez and Neil Walker both went 1-for-4 with a double.

Mike Crotta was charged with the loss, his third with the Indians. �Justin Thomas pitched one inning and allowed one run on 2 hits. �Vinnie Chulk pitched 2 scoreless innings, with one hit and one walk. �Anthony Claggett retired the Braves in order in the 9th.

The Indians have now lost 10 of their last 12 games, and are 2-5 on this homestand.

IMG_3187Indians’ Hitting Gems of the Game: �Jose Tabata, who went 3-for-5. �He had two singles and a double, and scored twice.

Indians’ Defensive Gems of the Game: �Neil Walker (photo), still with his right index finger bandaged, was back at second base tonight. �He made three very nice plays, in addition to the routine second base plays. �In the 6th inning, with Jordan Schafer on first base after a single, Wes Timmons bounced a grounder towards Walker at second base. �Walker got to the ball in the area of the baseline, just as Schafer was running past him. �Walker alertly reached out and tagged Schafer (who tried to elude him but couldn’t) as he went past, then threw on to first to complete the double play. �In the 2nd inning, Matt Young tapped slowly back through the infield, just to the right side of the mound. �Mike Crotta reached for the ball, but couldn’t get to it. �The ball was slowing, but Walker was in the right spot to back up Crotta. �He charged in, made a bare-hand pickup, then threw side-armed across his body and kind of behind him to first base. �The throw was high, though, and 1B Brian Myrow had to leap to make the catch, and Young crossed the bag while Myrow was in the air, safe at first with an infield single. �Walker still got a big round of applause from the Victory Field crowd. �In the 8th, Schafer hit a short pop fly into the no-man’s-land behind the baseline between first and second bases, way too close in for RF Kevin Melillo to get to, and in the wrong direction for Myrow to reach. �Walker raced back and got to the right spot, making the catch and making it look pretty easy.

More Crotta:




Check out the Indians’ home page for a photo of a whole line of “Alvarezes”.

Go Tribe!

(photos by Nancy)

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