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Photos:  Chase d’Arnaud takes the throw from Matt Hague, forcing out Wes Hodges at second base, then returns the ball to Hague for the out at first.

IMG_5562After that 1st inning, Owens did not allow a run, and he scattered 3 hits over the next 5 innings.  He retired the side in order in the 2nd, then gave up a single to Carrera to begin the 3rd.  As in the 1st inning, Carrera took off for second base as Owens made a pick-off throw to first base.  This time, Hague’s throw to Ciriaco was right on target, and Carrera was tagged out at second.  Owens hit Chisenhall with a pitch for the second time, but he was left on base.  1B Wes Hodges singled with one out in the 4th, but he was erased when SS Luis Valbuena bounced to first and Hague began a 3-6-3 double play (photos above).  Former Pirate Josh Rodriguez (photo) doubled off the left field wall in the 5th, but was stranded on base too.  Owens finished his afternoon by putting down the Clippers in order in the 6th.  He threw 98 pitches (71 for strikes), and allowed 5 hits, no walks, and struck out 3 Clippers.

Also after the 1st inning, the Indians went hitless for the next three innings.  RF Andrew Lambo and C Dusty Brown worked back-to-back walks to open the 2nd inning, but both were left on base.  Brown was also hit by a pitch in the 4th inning, but again was left stranded.  

When the rain started coming down harder in the top of the 5th, it seemed like the umpires were trying to get through 5 innings so that it would be an official game.  The Clippers were leading 2-1, and Owens kept that lead from widening when he worked around Rodriguez’s double in the top of the 5th.  The Indians needed to score in the bottom of the 5th, and they were able to do it.  Friday led off the inning with a double to the left field wall.  SS Chase d’Arnaud moved Friday to third base with a sacrifice bunt.  After a pop out, Presley walked, giving the Indians runners on the corners.  LF John Bowker grounded up the middle, hopping the ball over 2B Kipnis’ glove, to drive Friday in with an RBI single.  Hague walked, loading the bases, but the Indians could not capitalize on that opportunity.  Still, they finished the inning tied at 1-1.  The rain had slowed a bit by then, and the game continued.

IMG_5559(Photo:  Dusty Brown)

Owens had a 1-2-3 inning in the 6th, then he was relieved by Justin Thomas for the 7th inning.  Thomas also pitched a 1-2-3 inning, including one strikeout.

The Tribe broke the tie in the bottom of the 7th.  With two outs, Bowker smacked a double into deep center field.  Hague followed with a liner right back to the Clippers’ relief pitcher Zach Putnam.  Putnam knocked it down, but his throw to first base was crazy wild, allowing Hague to reach safely, and allowing Hague to round third and score.  Indians ahead 3-2.  

Evan Meek, who has just joined the Indians on a rehab assignment from the Pirates, came on to pitch the 8th inning as planned.  (There was some speculation that Meek would be held out of the game due to the rain.)  Meek had a fine inning, with a strikeout and two infield ground outs.  He threw 12 pitches (9 strikes) and seemed to have no problems.  

The Indians burst out for 4 more runs in the bottom of the 8th.  With one out, DH Andy Marte was hit by a pitch.  Friday, who also singled in the 6th, picked up his third hit of the afternoon with a line drive off 2B Kipnis’ glove and into center field, moving Marte to second base.  D’Arnaud drove in Marte with a grounder up the middle, again putting Tribe runners on the corners.  That brought up Pedro Ciriaco, who took an 0-1 pitch over the left field wall for a 3-run homer.  

Cesar Valdez came on to pitch the top of the 9th, and for the fourth game in a row, the Tribe let the opponents chew into their lead in the final inning.  Valdez had not allowed a run in his last 12 appearances, but that streak ended today.  He struck out the first two batters in the 9th (Chisenhall and Huffman), then gave up a line drive single to Kipnis.  Defensive indifference let Kipnis move to second base, then Hodges grounded a single up the middle, and Kipnis raced around to score from second base.  Valdez ended the game with a tapper back to the mound.

IMG_5531The win gives the Indians a 3-0 lead in this 4-game series with the Clippers, guaranteeing them a win of the series.  This will be the first series win of the season for the Indians.  The Indians remain in last place in the International League West Division, but they have cut the difference between themselves and the first-place Clippers to 10.5 games.  The Louisville Bats are in second place, 3 games behind the Clippers.  The Toledo Mud Hens are 6.5 games behind Columbus, in third place.  

Indians’ Hitting Gem of the Game:  Pedro Ciriaco’s (photo) 3-run homer, his second of the season.  

Indians’ Defensive Gem of the Game:  The 3-6-3 double play, Matt Hague to Chase d’Arnaud and back to Hague in the 4th inning.  Not a play that comes up very often, but Hague and d’Arnaud made it look easy.

NOTES:
Starting pitcher Garrett Olson left last night’s game earlier than expected — he was supposed to get in about 60 pitches, but left after 26 pitches and two good innings of work.  It was because he had “tweaked” his oblique muscle.  The training staff is hoping that they caught this early enough so that Olson will have to miss only one start, then be able to return to the rotation.

Go Tribe!

(Photos by Nancy)

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