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Thursday, December 1, 2022

Clement Drives Indians Come-From-Behind Win

IMG_3728Photo: �Mike Crotta made the start

The Mud Hens made it 6-2 in the top of the 4th, but the Indians got one more run back in the bottom of the frame. With two outs, RF Kevin Melillo worked a walk. Brandon Moss singled into right field, as Melillo raced around second and headed for third base. RF Casper Wells threw in from right field, and Melillo and the ball both got to third base at the same time. The ball hit the back of Melillo’s helmet and went ricocheting into the seats. Melillo was awarded one base, so he scored, and Moss went to second base. A ground out ended that inning, with the Indians within 3 runs, 6-3.

Mud Hens’ starter LJ Gagnier had made an even 100 pitches over the first 5 innings, and he was relieved by Scot Drucker to begin the 6th. The Indians did not treat Drucker very nicely — chasing him with 6 runs on 5 hits, as they sent 10 batters to the plate in the inning.

IMG_3731Alex Presley (photo) collected his first AAA hit with a hit to center field to open the inning. Toledo CF Ramirez was a bit relaxed about fielding the ball, and he was surprised to discover that Presley meant to make the most of his first hit with his new team. Presley never slowed as he approached first base, rounded the bag and charged into second base, much to the surprise of Ramirez, who suddenly couldn’t get the ball back in fast enough. Jonathan Van Every grounded to short, and because Presley was off and running again, he was already past the SS Brent Dlugach by the time the ball got to Dlugach. Dlugach threw to third base, where Presley should have been out — but the ball bounced as Presley slid into third base, and while the Mud Hens chased it down, Presley hopped up and raced for the plate, sliding in safely. Van Every went to second base on the error. SS Argenis Diaz dropped down a sacrifice bunt, moving Van Every to third base. Kevin Melillo walked, giving the Indians runners on the corners with one out. Brandon Moss slipped a grounder through the hole and into right field, plating Van Every from third base. Jim Negrych singled for the third time in the game, loading the bases.

At this point, still ahead 6-5, Scot Drucker got a visit on the mound from his coaching staff, but they elected to leave him in the game. He got something out of the chat, because he was able to strike out Steve Pearce for the second out of the inning. But that brought up Jeff Clement, who had other ideas. Clement drove a triple deep into the right field corner, clearing the bases and giving the lead to the Indians, 8-6. That was all for Drucker, who was charged with the Blown Save, and eventually, the loss. Brendan Wise came on for Toledo, and he was greeted by Erik Kratz’s single into right center, which brought in Clement and increased the Tribe’s lead to 9-6. That last run became important shortly afterwards.

IMG_3740Wise settled in after that hit. He finished the 6th inning by getting Alex Presley (photo) to ground out. Then he gave up only a walk to Kevin Melillo over the next two innings.

Mike Crotta finished his night’s work the way he started it, with a simple 3-up-3-down inning. He had pitched 5 innings and allowed 6 runs on 7 hits and 2 walks, with 5 strikeouts. He threw 91 pitches (57 strikes), and was not involved in the decision. Corey Hamman took over for Crotta for the 6th. Hamman gave up a lone single to Jeff Kunkel in that inning, then worked around a walk to Jeff Frazier in the 7th, for two scoreless innings. Vinnie Chulk took care of the 8th inning with a fly out and two strikeouts.

Jean Machi relieved Chulk to begin the top of the 9th. The inning began with Jeff Kunkel’s double into right field and over the head of RF Kevin Melillo. Machi walked Will Rhymes, but when he got Brent Dlugach to bounce to third base and Steve Pearce started an around-the-horn double play (Pearce to Negrych to Clement), everyone in the park breathed a sigh of relief. That turned out to be premature. With Kunkel still on third base, Jeff Frazier lifted a long fly ball over the left field scoreboard for a 2-run homer. The Mud Hens had come back to within one run of the Indians, 9-8. That slim lead looked to be in danger when the next batter, Ryan Strieby, also lifted a long high fly, this one to straight-out center field. Jonathan Van Every ran for the wall, and at the last second, he made the game-ending catch up against the wall, then turned to hold up the ball for all to see, giving the Indians the win. Machi earned his 11th save of the season.

The win puts the Indians into a tie for second place of the International League Western Division. Both the Indians and the Mud Hens have a 41-34 record and are 4 games behind the first-place Columbus Clippers.

Indians’ Hitting Gems of the Game: Jeff Clement’s double and triple, two clutch hits which brought in a total of 5 runs. Clement himself scored the game-winning run.

Indians’ Defensive Gems of the Game: All three outs in the 9th inning. The 5-4-3 double play started by Steve Pearce, and on to Jim Negrych and Jeff Clement, was second only to Jonathan Van Every’s amazing catch of Strieby’s fly ball at the wall to end the game.


IMG_3730Steve Pearce was on third base for the third straight game. He is still borrowing a teammate’s glove, but he’s looking more comfortable there.

Aki Iwamura (photo) was sitting in the dugout, but did not get into the game. There were lots of extra Japanese media present at Victory Field, and also lots of Iwamura’s fans — reminiscent of what happened a few years ago when Masumi Kuwata was here.

I thought I saw Danny Moskos down in the bullpen, doing some “protection” for Jean Machi as he warmed up, but it was kind of far away and I couldn’t tell for sure.

Sorry about the delay in photos… I’ll get some up as soon as I can.

Go Tribe!

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